Are your eyes starting to bother you more now that fall has arrived? With lots of pollen, dust, and spores in the air, you may be suffering from fall eye allergies.
Allergies occur when your immune system over-responds to foreign matter while other individuals remain unaffected. Seasonal environmental triggers include pollen from ragweed and other weeds; grasses and trees; and dust mites, molds, and certain plant-based foods. Read on to learn the most common fall eye allergies and tips for reducing allergy symptoms!
Common Sources of Fall Eye Allergies
Ragweed (Hay Fever)
According to the College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), about 23 million Americans are affected by ragweed allergies each year. Ragweed pollens are spread through the wind and become plentiful in the summer, usually hitting their peak in mid-September. The official term for allergic reactions to ragweed is allergic rhinitis, meaning inflammation of the nose. Common symptoms include eye irritation, runny nose, and itchy throat, as well as headaches, nasal congestion, and sneezing.
U.S. grasses such as Kentucky, Orchard, Bermuda, and Johnson grasses can trigger seasonal allergies. Nonetheless, certain grasses in the Southern parts of the U.S. pollinate throughout multiple seasons, and can trigger allergies year-round.
Molds produce spores which spread through the air and cause irritating symptoms that are similar to those triggered by pollen allergens. Some are year-round irritants, while others are seasonal, appearing between mid-summer and early fall. Outdoor molds form on logs, moss, wet leaves, grains, and grass while inside molds thrive in damp areas such as basements, kitchens, or bathrooms.
Dust mites can live in mattresses, pillow cases, cushions, carpet, and furniture upholstery. Dead dust mites become part of the dust around the house, triggering allergic reactions. In the fall, dust allergens can peak due to students returning to school buildings that have shelves or classrooms that have accumulated dust over the summer.
Fruits and Vegetables
If you have a ragweed allergy, the AAFA tells us, you may also have reactions to some plants that produce fruits, vegetables, or tea leaves. Such examples are bananas, cantaloupes, sunflower seeds, chamomile tea, and watermelon. Honey that has pollen coming from plants that are related to ragweed can likewise trigger your allergies. As you know, Michigan is known for growing sunflowers, apples, pumpkins, corn, and more during the fall.
Management and Treatment
Consult with your local eye doctor to see if you would be a good candidate for medications that can help mitigate your fall eye allergies or other allergy symptoms. Find out which allergens you react to, and check pollen counts daily. During the early fall, ragweed pollen levels and mold spore counts are highest in the morning, so it’s best to avoid going outside until later.
Tips for Reducing Common Allergens in the Home
- Change your clothes after you’ve been outside.
- Wash your hands after petting animals coming from outdoors.
- Shower before you go to bed.
- Use dehumidifiers.
- Vacuum and dust regularly.
Treating and Managing Symptoms
- Get a blood test to determine what allergens trigger your fall eye allergies or other symptoms.
- Confer with your eye doctor about using over-the-counter medications and eye drops to relieve eye irritation. Some eye washes, nasal sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants may provide relief.
- Finally, check with your eye doctor to see whether prescription-strength medications will help.