Autumn Prep 101: Here Are The Seasonal Allergens To Look Out For

September has just arrived, but stores across the country have begun rolling out pumpkin-flavored beverages, Halloween decorations, and a flurry of seasonal attire. While most of us jump for joy at the thought of cooler weather, as the seasons begin to change, allergies can take a nasty turn.

Some unlucky Americans are even allergic to the fall’s favorite frothy treat: the pumpkin spice latte.

While few people are allergic to pumpkins, the majority of those individuals are usually only allergic to the seeds. However, with no way to guarantee the seeds don’t make it into the classic PSL, which uses a fresh pumpkin puree, they might be out of luck this autumn.

This allergen isn’t particularly well-known since it’s a contact allergen, not an airborne pollutant. Airborne allergens usually affect a wider range of people (along with sticking to your car).

Seasonal allergies are particularly bad this year thanks to the wildfires springing up on the west coast.

The wildfires have caused a build-up of allergens trapped in smoke. Combined with the slow-moving air currents on the west coast, the allergens have gradually been deposited across the United States, affecting people all the way to Illinois. Over the last week or two, seasonal allergies have been particularly bad.

But what allergies are the worst in the fall?

Before you open up your windows to take a breath of fresh, cold air, be warned: ragweed is the major fall allergen to watch out for in the fall.

According to the director of horticulture at the University of Texas Austin, Andrea DeLong-Amaya, ragweed and other airborne pollinators are the nastiest culprits behind our seasonal allergies. This is because plants that rely on wind and water to spread their pollen over animals and insects need to produce a lot at once to travel the distance between plants.

Nearly 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from nasal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Despite this, many people don’t know what they’re allergic to.

Those who suffer from these pollen allergies can experience a slew of cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose, post-nasal drip, and headaches. However, colds don’t usually last for long; after two weeks, you should be feeling better. If you experience these symptoms for longer and they’re paired with feelings of itchiness in the throat, nose, ears, and eyes, it’s likely a seasonal allergy.

It also shouldn’t be confused with sinusitis. Allergy-induced symptoms that mimic colds or other health issues are a result of rhinitis, not sinusitis, though they share similar characteristics. However, it’s important not to downplay the seriousness of seasonal allergies. Even though the most common allergies result in itchy eyes and a sore throat, many other people experience contact dermatitis, hives, or even anaphylaxis.

So, how do we tame seasonal allergies? The first step might be taking care of your lawn.

One of the ways to reduce allergens is maintaining a well landscaped lawn. When your yard is properly tended, there are fewer pesky plants, like ragweed, to make your allergies go berserk. After you perform any extensive lawn care, however, it’s important to rid your body of any contaminants. Go inside, hose down, and wash those clothes.

Utilizing an air conditioner can also help. A well-kept air conditioner with clean filters can help improve the indoor air quality of your home. Just be sure to keep the windows closed to prevent allergens from clogging your system. Pollen, dust, and pet dander can be circulated in your HVAC system up to seven times a day which causes problems in your ductwork if it isn’t cleaned regularly.

Of course, the only way you’re going to know if what you’re allergic to is to get allergy tested. Visiting an allergy clinic to get tested is the best way to avoid allergens in the future.

But what do pumpkin spice lovers do when they can’t have their favorite treat? Luckily, fans can try to recreate it at home using the ingredients that spice up a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pies get most of their flavor from the spices, not the pumpkin. This also means that you should be safe burning any pumpkin-inspired candles or air fresheners. Try experimenting with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves in your beverages instead of pumpkin to avoid any allergens this fall.

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