Falling leaves lead to flare-ups of mold allergies

October 1, 2018

The apple may not fall far from the tree—but this time of year, the leaves plummeting from a small thicket can cover an entire lawn and driveway. And for some of us, the beautiful autumn tones of orange and russet soon will be a close match for the red of our inflamed nostrils, as we sneeze and sniffle our way through this major allergy season.

Indeed, falling leaves herald not only the start of fall, but also the flare-up of mold allergies, Michael Beninger, MD, an ear, nose and throat expert at the Cleveland Clinic told The Weather Channel recently.

Mold allergies can create the same symptoms as other seasonal irritants: itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and nasal congestion—which often causes sleepless nights and daytime fatigue. Sore throats and headaches also are common.

As ragweed season winds down in the North and Northeast, the leaves start to fall, ramping up mold production. When leaves just sit in your yard, moisture accumulates— accelerating mold growth. Fallen foliage from summer gardens gone bad and more can also be mold hot spots.

As with all allergens, avoidance is your best strategy, Dr. Beninger advises, adding, “If you’re a person with bad mold allergies, you probably should spend more time indoors. Don’t rake your own leaves [and] be careful with any kind of vegetables that are rotting [such as Halloween pumpkins].”

It’s also best to roll up the windows in your car and at home, and to run a fan at home to circulate air throughout your abode to fight fall allergies, Warner Carr, MD, an allergist and fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told the weather news outlet. It’s also essential to visit an allergist to find out to which allergens you are sensitive, so you can create the best-possible treatment plan.

“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.”

For people with asthma, mold can exacerbate their symptoms when it’s inhaled, regardless if they have other allergy symptoms —although 70% of asthmatics also have allergies, according to the ACAAI.

Research contact: @anniehauser

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