Considered a transitional season in the northern hemisphere, fall, also known as autumn, brings rains and children back to school, harvests and foliage, pumpkin carvings and longer outdoor activities for milder and less humid temperatures. Environmental allergies, such as ragweed, mold, and pollen are the bulk of what’s most treated during the fall season.
Two things you need to know: pollen count and September asthma peak.
Pollen, the by-product of flowering trees, weeds, and grasses, can be a major allergen causing hive, known in medical terms as allergic rhinitis. Lighter and dryer pollen from plants, trees, and grasses is easily dispersed by winds, mostly invisible and culprit of allergies. To recap, hot, dry and windy weather conditions are ideal to disperse the highest levels of pollen. Pollen count determines the number of grains of pollen suspended in the air.
Ragweed is a common weed and its pollen can travel quite far. Although its season usually peaks towards the end of summer, its symptoms can be detected through Halloween and even beyond due to global warming.
Mold grows in damp and humid environments, outdoor and indoor. The weather plays a major role in the development and appearance of mold; it can be dormant and only appear when humidity and temperatures are high enough. Mold spores are airborne and can move and spread easily in the air.
The three seasonal allergies share similar symptoms: watery and swollen eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itchy throat. In some cases of untreated allergies, they can also develop asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing.
“The September asthma peak” is a phenomenon recurrent on and around the 38th week of the year in school-aged children. It consists of an increase in emergency room visits, hospital admissions and unpredicted doctor’s visits after Labor Day. If you are asking yourself what could be the culprit, more than the obvious ragweed, studies show it’s related to return to school. The underlying causes may explain the phenomenon. Children with asthma, who have been spending more time outdoors during summertime, go back to school and move to a climate-controlled environment that exposes them to indoor allergens such as mold, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches and mice, respiratory allergens, viral infections, and environmental irritants. How to prevent intensifying of the symptoms? Keep the environment under control and choose an allergist to get tested, diagnosed and treated.