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Fall Allergies

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It’s fall, and the blooms of summer have faded. So how come you’re still sneezing? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they can cause just as many symptoms as you have in spring and summer.

What Causes Fall Allergies?

Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall. Though the yellow-flowering weed usually starts releasing pollen in August, it can last into September and October. About three-quarters of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed.

Ragweed pollen loves to get around. Even if it doesn't grow where you live, it can still travel for hundreds of miles on the wind. For some people who are allergic to ragweed, foods like bananas, melon, zucchini, and certain other fruits and vegetables can also cause symptoms.

Mold is another fall trigger. You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom – damp areas in the house – but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding grounds for mold.

Don’t forget dust mites. While they are common during the humid summer months, they can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall. Dust mites can trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.

Going back to school can also trigger allergies in kids because mold and dust mites are common in schools.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Dark circles under the eyes

How Are Fall Allergies Diagnosed?

Your doctor or allergist can help find out exactly what’s causing your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. He'll talk to you about your medical history and symptoms, and may recommend a skin test.

With a skin test, the doctor places a tiny amount of the allergen on your skin -- usually on your back or forearm -- and then pricks or scratches the skin underneath. If you're allergic to it, you’ll get a small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite.

Sometimes a blood test may be used to diagnose allergies.

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