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Fall Allergies Set To Begin

Fall Allergies Set To Begin

Allergy sufferers must be on the lookout for fall allergens even if it seems that nothing is there. For allergy patients autumn often means relief from the lush summer foliage that is responsible for much of their misery. But just because the fall does not look like the summer or spring it does not mean it is not also a viable allergy season. In the fall you do not see mould or ragweed outdoors as much and the trees are not blooming. Just because you cannot see it though does not mean that it is not there. People forget that when plants start to die and when the ragweed blossoms there are also allergy problems.

According to a 2002 survey done by the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) 94 percent of patients said their quality of life deteriorated when they had allergic reactions. Allergy sufferers must be on the lookout for fall allergens even if it seems that nothing is there. There are two primary causes of fall allergy: ragweed and mould.

Most ragweed allergy issues are caused by two species: the normal/ small ragweed (Ambrosia aratemisiifolia) and the giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida). Ragweed has coarse yellow or green leaves and can be found in vacant lots roadsides backyards and anywhere else the sun is prevalent.

According to the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI) ragweed pollen is released August 15 and lasts until October. While it is most common in the middle and eastern provinces all areas of Canada have some form of ragweed. Ragweed allergy symptoms include rhinitis or hay fever sneezing and inflamed watery and itchy eyes.

West coasters may be rejoicing at their less-extreme ragweed growth but it is certainly made up for in terms of mould. Western provinces experience more mould growth due to higher levels of precipitation and moisture. Mould spores peak in the late summer and early fall and are found both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor moulds can be found in falling leaves vegetation rotting wood and soil. Indoor moulds enjoy the damp areas of washing machines dryers refrigerators shower stalls trash containers basements and upholstery. School carpeting which tends to be old can also be a mould source due to dampness and possible floods.

Recently in a study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences found indoor mould and building dampness to be linked to respiratory problems. These problems include asthma and coughing wheezing and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals. Researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing the available scientific studies on mould and building dampness.

Mould growth on the West coast doubles by summer’s end especially in cold and dark areas where there is much rain. Common mould allergy symptoms include

  • itchy eyes
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion
  • dizziness
  • watery and swollen eyes
  • blurred vision
  • eyelid twitching
  • eye redness
  • wheezing and cough.

As a patient it is invaluable to recognize allergy symptoms. If patients are neglectful or ignorant of their allergies they may be misdiagnosed by eye care practitioners who mistake similar symptoms for dry eye or other ocular conditions. In order for treatment regimens to be suitable it is recommended you get allergy tests done if you experience any of the above symptoms spontaneously and only for a specific season.

With files from Review of Optometry

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