Why Are Allergies Bad in the Fall?
Annie Hauser weather.com
Worst Fall Allergy Cities 2013
100. Portland, Ore. - On last year's fall allergy rankings, Portland took the #99 spot. AAFA gave the city a score of 37.87 this year. The cities here are listed in order from better to worse.
Why are allergies bad in the fall? Ragweed, said Warner Carr, MD, an allergist and fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
"When you're talking about allergies, you can break them up into two big categories: Those that are present year-round, and those that are present during certain seasons," he said. "Seasonal allergies are mostly due to pollen, and what pollinates in the fall is ragweed."
(ABOVE: 2013's Worst Cities for Fall Allergies)
Fall pollen counts are "absolutely" getting higher each and every year, Dr. Carr added. So if you think your fall allergies are getting worse, you're right. But there are different theories as to why.
"The prevailing theory has to do with the has to do with our seasons," Dr. Carr said. "There's a warming trend in our environment, so we're seeing a much more favorable growing environment for weeds."
If you're experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose and a sore throat, it's not the ragweed in your yard or your neighbor's yard that's to blame, either, Dr. Carr emphasized. "Pollen blankets an entire area like smoke from a fire," he explained.
Your first line of defense is over-the-counter nasal antihistamines and other medications that treat your specific symptoms. But the best way to fight seasonal allergies over the long-term is to see an allergist for an accurate diagnosis, and perhaps immunotherapy or allergy shots. Allergy shots routinely expose patients to their allergens a little bit at a time, eventually offering long-term remission of allergy symptoms, Dr. Carr said.
"There are simple, safe and effective therapies that we can do, so people aren't suffering from seasonal allergies," Dr. Carr said. "Allergies can have a huge impact on quality of life, and it's completely unnecessary suffering."