1. Ask the Expert: Fall Allergy Outlook
  • Ask the Expert: Fall Allergy Outlook

    October 24, 2019

    Read the AAFA’s predictions for autumnal allergies—plus what you can do to combat them.

    • The colorful leaves and cooler air that some people love about fall can be an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare. Here, Michele Cassalia, director of marketing for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, weighs in on what people can expect from this season’s allergens and offers tips to combat them.

      What are the biggest fall allergies, and how do they differ from spring allergies?

      Common spring allergens like mold, pollen, dust mites and pet dander can be just as prevalent in the fall, but come September, the biggest fall allergen trigger is ragweed pollen. These soft-stemmed weeds can even start blooming in late July depending on where you live, and they affect 10 to 20 percent of Americans.

      Every third week of September is what’s known as “Asthma Peak Week” or “The Perfect Storm.” Ragweed reaches its peak, mold increases due to the falling leaves and children have been back in school for a few weeks, where they’re more susceptible to catching colds and other illnesses.**

      What is the AAFA’s fall allergies forecast this year?

      In years past, warmer temperatures from climate change have caused the pollen season to be extended by 11 to 27 days. High temperatures and heavy rain are expected to make ragweed particularly severe for allergy sufferers.

      What can people do to combat fall seasonal allergies?

      As the temperatures cool, we’re going to be spending more time indoors, so it’s important to make sure the air we’re breathing at home is clean.

      • People often remember to change the filter on their HVAC unit, but don’t forget about the vents on the floor. Check the inside to make sure dust and other allergens haven’t collected there.
      • Clean oft-overlooked areas. Pull refrigerators and washing machines away from the wall to get the dust and mold that may be trapped behind those appliances.
      • Wipe down blinds and ceiling fans.
      • Wash all your bedding—even the mattress pad—in 130-degree water to kill dust mites.
      • Pollen is often at its worst from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in many urban areas, so on heavy pollen days, try to stay indoors during that time. You can also check Pollen.com for information about pollen levels in your area.

      October is National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month. Is there anything else homeowners can do to improve indoor air quality overall?

      There are other sources of indoor air pollution that people don’t think about. In the fall, replace scented candles with battery-operated ones, and as mowing season wraps up, store your lawn mower in a shed, rather than your garage. Both of these simple actions will reduce the amount of pollution you’re inhaling in your home.

      Sources

      mcassalia@aafa.org