Tackling Fall Allergy Season
The most prevalent allergens during the fall season in the Cary-Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Triangle Region are the weeds, particularly ragweed. Other weed pollens in the air include pigweed and sheep sorrel. Mold counts also tend to increase in the fall as damp, fallen leaves begin to decompose. A perennial (year-round) allergen that tends to cause more issues in the fall is dust mites. College dormitories tend to have more dust mites than the average home, so students returning to their campuses often feel a spike in symptoms. Mold is also typically more prevalent in college dorms and in classrooms of older buildings.
How Long Does the Fall Allergy Season Last?
The length of the fall allergy season is primarily dependent on the pollination timing of weeds. It typically begins in late August/early September (as it is now in our area) and lasts until November. Outdoor mold allergen counts tend to increase in the later months of the fall.
Treating Fall Allergies
The first technique to employ is allergen avoidance: try to avoid the outdoors when conditions are most allergenic. The most active period of pollen release is in the mid-morning and early evening. Dry and windy conditions tend to disperse pollen more readily than cool, wet conditions. Mattress and pillowcase covers can help avoid dust mite exposure. Washing sheets, blankets and stuffed animals at a high temperature (120 F) can eliminate many dust mites. If symptoms persist, pharmacotherapy can be effective. Nasal steroid spray (such as fluticasone) can help nose and eye symptoms. Anti-histamine spray (like azelastine) can be very effective for nasal congestion and drainage. Allergy medicines “by mouth” such as cetirizine (a non-sedating anti-histamine) and montelukast (a leukotriene inhibitor) help many people. If allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy are incompletely beneficial, the next step is immunotherapy. The NCEENT Allergy Department offers both “allergy shots”—subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT)—and “under the tongue” allergy treatment—sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). With SCIT and SLIT, a special “cocktail” of allergens—tailored to the patient’s specific sensitivities—is used to treat. This therapy typically lasts for 3-5 years and then typically confers a lasting benefit after stopping treatment.
Cary, Chapel Hill Allergy Treatment
The first step in treating symptoms of allergic disease is to get tested. Call 919-595-2000 today for an appointment!
Kevin G. Hueman, MD, FAAOA, is a board certified Otolaryngologist / Head & Neck Surgeon and a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. He sees adult and pediatric patients in our Cary and North Durham offices.
By. Kevin G. Hueman, MD, FAAOA