Fall and Winter Allergies

If you’re wondering whether or not you or your child have fall or winter allergies, here are some signs it might be time to visit an otoloaryngologist (ENT) for an evaluation.

The most common fall allergies come from high levels of ragweed pollen and mold spores, which tend to peak in the fall. Mold growth can spike with the warmth and humidity of the summer and persists through the fall. Meanwhile, ragweed pollen levels rise in late August and can last until the first frost.

Fall allergy sufferers can experience sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, post-nasal drip, cough, itchy and runny nose. General fatigue and recurrent sinus infections are also common. Asthmatics and eczema sufferers may also find they are more likely to have flare ups from allergens, temperature and humidity changes.

Unfortunately for many children with allergies, winter can also bring its own set of challenges. That’s because both indoor allergens and cold-weather irritants can trigger symptoms. Irritants such as dry, cold outside air, and recycled particle-filled indoor air can lead to congestion, sore throat and sneezing. Spending more time indoors in the winter can also lead children to be exposed to other allergens such as pets, indoor mold and dust mites. If your child’s symptoms worsen when they enter your home or their school, they may also suffer from indoor environmental allergies.

The first thing you want to do is control your child’s symptoms by avoiding suspected allergens and irritants. Parents should keep windows closed, run central air or heat, take time to wash your child’s hands and face when they come inside, and use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in bedrooms. It’s also wise to invest in dust mite covers, while making sure to wash sheets in hot water and taking care to keep pets out of certain rooms. Exposure to specific triggers such as pollen, pets and dust can often make your child’s symptoms worsen quickly. But allergy symptoms typically fade when the trigger is removed. Addressing allergies earlier can significantly improve your child’s quality of life.

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