As we transition out of the spring and summer pollen allergy season, patients with fall and winter allergies may notice worsening symptoms.  In the fall, particularly with rainy, damp weather, mold is a common environmental allergen.  The cooler weather also drives people indoors, increasing indoor allergen exposure to dust mite and animal danders.  Environmental management of fall and winter allergies can include the use of air purifiers/filters, as well as frequent dusting, vacuuming and laundering of bedding. Dust mite mattress and pillow covers can help reduce exposure and manage symptoms. 

Medications to control persistent symptoms are similar to those used for pollen allergies and include antihistamines, like Claritin or Zyrtec, topical nasal steroid sprays, like Flonase, and saline nasal washes or irrigations, like a neti-pot.  If allergy sufferers continue to have symptoms that are not managed with environmental control measures and medications, allergy shots or drops (immunotherapy) can often successfully improve symptoms.  Allergy skin testing can help patients and physicians determine which allergen may be causing symptoms and then direct specific treatment efforts to address their allergies. 

-Nora Perkins MD, MBA, FACS, FAAOA

According to Albany ENT and Allergy Services Specialist Dr. Gavin Setzen, pollen allergies occur during specific times of the year.  In the Capital Region, tree pollen first appears in March or April, when trees and flowers bloom; grass pollen is usually first noted in May and continues to be a concern through June and early summer. 

By late July into August, weed pollens (like ragweed) appear and can last into the fall until the first hard frost.  Non-pollen allergens, like mold, can be found throughout the year, but are often higher in early Spring when the snow melts and Fall when the leaves have fallen. 

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