When autumn arrives, many families dust off their favorite fall traditions including pumpkin carving, cozy sweaters and rolling around in big piles of leaves. This fall, don't forget that the autumn allergens found in leaves, weeds and mold can produce the sneezing and sniffling to ruin your favorite season.
"Fall allergies can be a huge challenge for families with young children," says Kanwaljit Brar, MD, pediatric allergist with National Jewish Health for Kids in Denver, Colorado. "Luckily, some simple steps can help children and their parents ditch uncomfortable fall allergies and enjoy the changing seasons."
What are the Symptoms of Fall Allergies?
Autumn allergy symptoms can vary among different people, but common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, itchy or swollen eyes, and a runny nose. Some fall allergy sufferers also experience fatigue, sore or itchy throat, asthma attacks, trouble breathing and skin irritation like hives.
"Everyone experiences fall allergies differently," says Dr. Brar. "Some children and adults have mild symptoms, while others can have severe reactions to autumn allergens. We recommend families make a plan for treating the symptoms of fall allergies, and do your best to prevent exposure to fall allergens."
How Can I Prevent Fall Allergies?
By following these simple guidelines, you and your family can say goodbye to autumn allergies and hello to your favorite fall activities.
- Remove fall allergens from your home. Invest in a dehumidifier to dry up those damp areas of your home, like basements, that might encourage mold and mildew. Rid your home of fall allergens. Keep windows closed and use screen doors to keep allergens outside.
- Hang up the yard work for the season. Yard work irritates fall allergies, so it's best to avoid working in the yard while your autumn allergies are acting up. For your children with allergies, consider a kid-friendly indoor activity while a parent tackles the yard work.
- Wash away the fall allergens — regularly. By rinsing your skin and hair with quick showers, you can avoid the pollen and other allergens that make your eyes water and your nose run. It's also a good idea to wash your hands more often than normal and wash your clothes more often — even outerwear.
- Save outdoor exercise for the evenings. "Spending extra time outdoors in the afternoon can aggravate fall allergies," says Dr. Brar. "Pollen counts peak between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so skip the afternoon jog and opt for a later workout to avoid fall allergies."
- Treat your fall allergies with a nasal rinse. "A saline solution is a comfortable and easy way to wash out your nose," says Dr. Brar. "By rinsing fall allergens out of your nasal passage, you can avoid the worst of your allergy symptoms and get back to feeling normal without the coughing, sneezing or itchy eyes. Talk to your doctor before trying a nasal rinse for fall allergies." You can also manage allergies with other medications including eye drops, liquids and oral tablets.