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How To Cope With and Combat Fall Allergies

Posted on October 18th, 2021

’Tis the season of pumpkin spice lattes, knit sweaters, and—unfortunately—rampant allergies. Seasonal sniffles are starting up again, and we’re here to explain why, how they impact your eyes, and what you can do to alleviate symptoms.

Something in the Air

When it comes to fall allergies, the biggest culprit is ragweed. If you get bad spring allergies, it’s likely you’ll experience some symptoms in the fall, too, since 75% of people who are allergic to spring plants also experience issues with ragweed pollen.

Ragweed pollen is a force to be reckoned with. It can travel for hundreds of miles by wind, and can also cling to fruits and vegetables. (In other words, you can run from ragweed, but you truly can’t hide.)

Other grasses and weeds that commonly cause allergies in the fall include:

  • Sagebrush
  • Mugwort
  • Pigweed
  • Tumbleweed
  • Burning brush
  • Lamb’s-quarters
  • Mugwort
  • Goldenrod
  • Cocklebur

Beyond plant-induced allergies, dust mites are also a fall allergy trigger. When people turn their home heaters back on after the warm summer months, dust mites can start penetrating the air. These can cause sneezes, wheezes, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Mould also tends to cause fall allergies, as the weather begins to change, and the air shifts from dry to damp. As leaves begin to fall and get wet, they make prime breeding grounds for mould.

Signs and Symptoms

There are several indicators that can mean you have allergies, including runny nose, watery, itchy, or irritated eyes, sneezing, headaches, and coughing and wheezing. Since the eyes drain into the nose, it’s possible for a great deal of these symptoms to start with the eyes!

It’s important to note that many of these coincide with common COVID-19 symptoms. So, make sure to get tested if you’re feeling sick, especially if you aren’t normally a seasonal allergy sufferer.

All Eyes

Eye-related irritation is unquestionably one of the most common symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Eyes often become red and itchy, and swollen eyelids, burning, and watering is also common. When your body is exposed to an allergen, your immune system produces histamines, which triggers a reaction, like a runny nose or swollen eyes.

The good news is, ocular allergies don’t really impact eyesight, other than potentially causing temporary blurring of vision. Plus, eye discomfort can sometimes easily be treated. More on that below.

Prevent and Protect

The simplest way to prevent a bad allergy flareup is to avoid triggers—in other words, stay inside as much as possible. The more time you spend outdoors, the more likely you are to be exposed to the itch-inducing elements that will cause a flare-up.

On the bright side, wearing a face mask will not only protect you from COVID-19, but it could also help block out some of the allergens. If you do spend time outside, make sure to wash your clothes immediately upon coming home and leave your shoes outside.

There are also several ways you can optimize your indoor space to improve your comfort levels during allergy season, including keeping windows closed and ensuring your bedding, upholstered furniture, and air vents are always as clean as possible.

Treat Yourself

In conjunction with integrating preventative measures into your daily lifestyle, there are countless medications that can help alleviate your allergy symptoms.

Antihistamines relieve itchy eyes, runny nose, and hives by blocking histamines, which are what cause reactions. But always remember that these drugs tend to cause drowsiness, so use them with caution if you are planning to drive or do anything that requires your full attention. Also, many of these oral treatments can dry out the eyes, which can cause some worsening of symptoms.

If you are a contact lens wearer, you can try the one and only ACUVUE® Theravision® antihistamine contact lenses

Nasal sprays are very useful when it comes to reducing stuffing and swelling in the nasal cavity. For those who suffer with nasal-related allergic reactions, nasal corticosteroids are the best option.

Eye drops are a great medication for those dealing with allergy-induced eye discomfort. Common allergy drops combine antihistamines and other medicines and can dramatically relieve red, swollen, and itchy eyes, as well as treat some of the stuffy sinuses by extension. It is important to note that although these dual acting agents can work well immediately, they work even better if taken consistently long term.

Inhalers offer relief for those who suffer from asthma, which can often be exacerbated by allergies.

Skin creams are useful if your allergic reaction manifests externally on the body through hives or rashes. Corticosteroid creams alleviate symptoms of redness, scaling, and burning.

Nasal rinses are a powerful way to clear mucus from your nose, removing dust, pollen and other debris, which can dramatically ease allergy symptoms. It can also help relieve nasal symptoms of sinus infections, allergies, colds and flu. However, plain water can irritate your nose, so using saline or distilled water is recommended, as  it is safer for the delicate nasal membranes.

Allergies are no doubt a big pain, and they can certainly make the fall season far less enjoyable. But as we’ve proven, there are tons of remedies—both medical and alternative—that can alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, so you can head over to the pumpkin patch with a smile.

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms this fall, try some of the recommendations above. If the issues persist, speak to your local FYidoctors optometrist about additional ways to alleviate your symptoms.