Fall has truly begun in the northeast. Leaves are changing, the air has bite and seasonal allergies are on the rise. Stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes are all common symptoms of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, are those which vary based on the season. If an allergy is consistent year-round, it is referred to as a perennial allergy.
Pollen is one of the main contributors to seasonal allergies, as its level varies throughout the year. The plants responsible for high pollen counts change through the year and include trees, grasses, and ragweed. Ragweed in particular is the primary contributor to fall seasonal allergies, as it produces one of the highest amounts of pollen. One plant can produce a billion grains of pollen each season. Interestingly, the EPA has used the changing length of the ragweed pollen season as an indicator of climate change. As warmer fall temperatures extend the growing season, ragweed can persist later in the year, producing more pollen.
Another contributor to seasonal allergies can be molds. While molds are largely perennial allergens due to indoor mold growth, seasonal conditions can contribute to mold exposure. Molds grow best in damp conditions and can be present in fall staples such as hay bales and leaf piles.
Resources to learn more about seasonal allergies, their causes and treatment methods: