In the Lowcountry, those first signs of fall free us from the weight of summer’s heat and humidity. We’re eager to get outside, enjoying the sunny days and cooler temperatures. But for those with allergies, fall can mean a spike in symptoms.
Here are five things you probably didn’t know about fall allergies:
1. Pollen isn’t just a springtime nuisance
In the spring, yellow pollen is visible everywhere, covering cars and patios all over the Lowcountry. But fall has its share of pollen too – it’s just not bright yellow. “Ragweed, in particular, is prevalent in the fall,” explains Dr. Carolyn Word, a board-certified allergist with Charleston Allergy & Asthma.
Ragweed pollen shows up at the end of summer and lasts until the first winter frost. Each ragweed plant puts out 1 billion pollen grains that can float hundreds of miles, Word says. She recommends exercising or spending time outdoors in the morning when it’s usually less windy so the ragweed pollen isn’t blowing around quite as much.
2. You can keep some of the pollen out of your house
It’s impossible to avoid being outdoors completely during the fall allergy season, but those with allergies can take precautions so the pollen doesn’t follow them home. Word recommends keeping the doors and windows closed, so pollen spores aren’t floating into the house. Showering in the evening can also prevent you from transferring all the pollen to your pillow and bedding.
3. Mold is a problem in the fall
Both indoor and outdoor molds are floating through the air during the fall months. One especially problematic variety is called Alternaria alternata, an outdoor mold that primarily grows on piles of wet leaves. It’s common in the Lowcountry thanks to the humid and damp climate.
“If you have allergies and asthma, don't rake leaves without a mask on,” Word says. “It doesn’t take much to stir those mold spores up.”
4. Dust mites love the autumn season
Dust mites are found in furniture, mattresses, pillows and even carpet. While dust mites can be found anytime of the year, they thrive on high humidity and warmth so late summer and early fall provides the perfect climate.
One way to combat dust mites is by running a dehumidifier in your home to keep the humidity below 50 percent. You can also keep the humidity down by keeping the doors and windows closed. For those who have dust mite allergies, Word suggests investing in a tightly woven pillow and mattress cover that keeps the dust mites at bay.
5. You can get relief from allergy symptoms
If you experience symptoms during the fall season, consider getting an allergy test from a board-certified allergist to find the root cause of your symptoms. Allergy immunotherapy or allergy shots can be helpful in targeting specific issues and keeps patients from having to take so many medications. Allergy shots are a natural approach to desensitizing you to your specific allergens, such as pollens, molds and even pet dander. Word also suggests a FDA-approved ragweed tablet that patients take daily to combat ragweed allergies
Check with Charleston Allergy & Asthma, a certified pollen-counting station, for daily information on grass, weed and mold levels. All the doctors at Charleston Allergy & Asthma are board certified allergists who use the latest treatments available to manage a wide range of allergies and asthma.
To request an appointment or learn more about services, visit charlestonallergy.com.