It is rather usual to associate allergies with spring, a period during which pollination of trees and grasses is at its maximum. And yet, the months of September and October also bring their share of sneezing and tearing with the return in force of many allergens different from those of spring. So, even if the hay is well and truly cut, beware of the fall allergens that take over! What are they ? How do they work? What to do ?
Review of the mechanisms of an allergy
An allergy results from a hypersensitivity of our body when it is confronted with a substance, a priori, harmless. The immune system then mistakenly considers this substance (the allergen) to be aggressive. In this first phase, called the sensitization phase, the immune system produces antibodies against this allergen. However, the allergic person does not experience any symptoms. It is during the second phase, that is to say when the individual is again subjected to the allergen, that the symptoms will appear. During this second exposure, the antibodies produced during the sensitization phase then seek to eliminate this allergen which they consider to be a real threat. These defense reactions are then the cause of the well-known symptoms of allergic people: runny nose, sneezing,
In fact, during this second phase, called the allergic reaction phase, there is the release of histamine and inflammation mediators. And it is the histamine released which is at the origin of most allergic manifestations:
- It clogs the nose and triggers the secretion of mucus.
- It is the cause of itching, edema and erythema of the skin.
- It causes constriction of the bronchi.
What are fall allergens and associated symptoms?
Four allergens stand out in the fall.
- Mugwort-leaved ragweed pollens
Ambrosia is a plant that is spreading more and more throughout France, whether in town or in the countryside. It is one of the fall plants with the most allergenic pollen. It is during the month of September that its pollen peak is located. More than 10% of the population are allergic to it. In the Rhône-Alpes region, for example, residents even have a device to signal their presence and location.
The symptoms are identical to those felt for other pollens: rhinitis, runny nose, tracheitis, cough, conjunctivitis and sometimes hives or eczema.
Autumn is also the season for hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts…! Of all those fruits that we love. However, allergies to these fruits alone represent 10% of food allergies. In addition, you should know that these fruits are used in the manufacture of many foods, ready meals and cosmetic products.
The symptoms, in this case, are different: tingling in the mouth, swelling of the tongue, difficulty in breathing and anaphylactic shock in the most severe cases.
With the temperatures that drop, we have less tendency to ventilate and more tendency to turn up the heat. Ideal conditions for our small enemies, the mites, which then take advantage of this to proliferate. So if you can, keep the windows wide open for at least ten minutes a day. The symptoms are the same as for allergic rhinitis.
- The molds
Autumn is also the period when the weather becomes wetter, which favors the appearance of mold in our interiors, and especially in dark and poorly ventilated places (bathrooms, for example). These small fungi can be identified by the small black spots that form, and which release spores into the air. Inhalation of these spores by allergic individuals then causes symptoms similar to those of allergic rhinitis.
How to treat your fall allergy?
To be able to deal with a problem, you have to know the cause. Unfortunately, while some causes are identifiable and can lead to preventive measures, others are much less so. Indeed, the causes of allergies are most often environmental, and are largely linked to global warming and pollution, parameters on which we unfortunately cannot act directly. So what to do?
- Total or partial eviction
Total eviction consists, as the name suggests, in avoiding contact with the allergen. In the case of fall allergens, this drastic solution is not easy to apply except, perhaps, for nuts.
However, a few simple actions can limit the intensity of allergic attacks:
- Regarding mold and dust mites: avoid overheating rooms, on the contrary, ventilate as much as possible. There are also sprays and purifiers against dust mites and molds. You can also buy dust mite mattress covers.
- For pollen, it is recommended to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. It is essential to avoid drying your laundry outside to prevent pollens from settling there.
- And regardless of the allergy, you can also boost your immune system by providing probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids.
- The medical approach
But, these simple actions are unfortunately not enough for many individuals. It is then necessary:
- Consult your doctor who will most likely prescribe antihistamines, such as AERIUS or XYZALL, or a corticosteroid such as NASONEX. These medications will give you quick relief, but keep in mind that they do not treat the cause. They simply alleviate the symptoms. Also, if your allergy is more severe and significantly deteriorates your quality of life, then you should consult an allergist.
- Consult an allergist, who can determine the origin of your allergy and suggest desensitization. Although controversial, desensitization is the only treatment for certain allergies today.
Allergies are considered by the WHO to be a real public health problem. The number of people with allergies continues to increase, and today, more than 30% of French people suffer from it. Any of us can become allergic overnight to a substance that they were still tolerating very well the day before. So if you show symptoms suggestive of an allergy, do not let them invade you and quickly consult a doctor or an allergist in order to relieve them.