The month of October isn’t exactly a time most people associate with allergies, so why is it that the sales of allergy medications shoot through the roof each fall? Because even October isn’t without its allergy triggers, and the symptoms they cause, such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, and scratchy throat, are just as irritating as those caused by spring and summer allergy triggers.
According to Dr. Jay Portnoy, who works as an allergist-immunologist in Kansas City, “the most common fall allergy is ragweed, which pollinates from August 15 to early October through most of the United States and parts of Europe.”
The increased number of warm days and warm nights over the last few decades have been causing ragweed to release its pollen well into October, making millions of allergy sufferers sneeze, itch, and cough until the winter. Because ragweed pollen can travel for hundreds of miles, it affects even people who don’t live in places where it grows, and the allergy symptoms it causes may also be triggered by certain fruits and vegetables.
Besides ragweed, mold is another common October allergy trigger. Mold spores love the relatively hot, damp environment created by piles of leaves on the ground, and even the gentlest breeze can carry them across vast distances. High mold counts in the air make life difficult for those with asthma, and it’s not easy to hide from them.
Last but not least, dust mites enjoy the lack of ventilation and the hot air from central heating systems in the fall. It doesn’t take long for their population numbers propagate swiftly, which is when sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses start to happen.
How to Prevent Allergies?
Antihistamines are an effective short-term allergy prevention strategy, while decongestants can be used to relieve nasal congestion in the upper respiratory tract. However, neither antihistamines nor decongestants are suitable for long-term allergy relief as they may cause your blood pressure to rise and your heartbeat to accelerate, just to name two common side effects.
Contrary to popular belief, staying inside doesn’t help much either—at least now without an air purifier. In October, indoor air tends to be very dry, and central heating systems only cause pollen, mold, and other particles to circulate in the air.
An air purifier with a HEPA filter can remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter, including pollen, bacteria, pet dander, and dust mites, and keep the indoor humidity at an acceptable and comfortable level, which is between 30 and 50 percent.
Even in October, there are many allergy triggers that can cause symptoms ranging from sneezing and coughing to scratchy throat and watery eyes to breathing problems. It’s especially uncomfortable when our own homes turn into a breeding ground for many of fall’s most annoying allergy triggers, making it hard to take a break from them. The best defense then is an air purifier with a HEPA filter, preferably one with a built-in humidifier.