What you may not know about fall allergies

While most people associate the symptoms of sneezing, sniffling and watery eyes with early spring, autumn brings its own share of challenges for allergy sufferers. The fall can be especially difficult if you contend with mold and ragweed allergies, but there is more to this season than meets the eye.

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Here are a few things you may not have known about fall allergies:

Allergens are present in autumn leaves

Fall foliage is inextricably linked with the season, but those leaves also harbor a host of allergens that can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Early in the autumn, raking leaves can stir up pollen and other particulates in the air, which can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. Additionally, as the season wears on, wet leaves can produce high levels of mold. When working outdoors, be sure to wear a dust/pollen mask to block out allergens and close windows before and after rainstorms to reduce mold buildup indoors.

Certain foods trigger ragweed allergies

If you eat a piece of cantaloupe and suddenly find that your mouth is itchy, or eat a banana and suddenly suffer from inflammation, you may suffer from a condition called oral allergy syndrome. With this condition, the immune system treats proteins similar to those in pollen that are sometimes found in fruits and vegetables in the same way, thus triggering an allergic reaction. For instance, if you have a ragweed allergy and are diagnosed with oral allergen syndrome, you should avoid bananas, melons, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds and chamomile, which may trigger a reaction.

Hay Fever has nothing to do with hay

Hay Fever is a common term associated with fall allergies. But, in reality, it has nothing to do with hay and has become a catch-all term to describe late summer allergy symptoms. Ragweed is among the most common causes of these symptoms during fall, as it begins to pollinate in mid-August and will stay present until the first deep freeze. Three out of four people who are allergic to pollen are allergic to ragweed, and the plants grains can travel for hundreds of miles on the wind making it an ever-present factor throughout autumn.

Home heating systems can trigger allergies

While mold and ragweed are the chief fall allergy concerns outdoors, dust mites present a significant challenge indoors. Dust mites are microscopic insects that are found on mattresses, bedding, curtains and other home surfaces, and while maintaining a standard of cleanliness is pivotal in keeping them at bay, they are also found in home heating systems. The dust and filth found in these ducts can host millions of dust mites, so hiring a professional to clean these spaces before turning on the heating system can dramatically reduce allergic symptoms.

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