Fall allergies will be in full effect in parts of the United States
Summer is just beginning to end and already the scent of pumpkin spice can be smelled in some cafes. However, as residents prepare for a season filled with apple picking, pumpkin carving and colorful leaves, it won’t be pumpkin spice and it will all be enjoyable for everyone. As the seasonal festivities kick in, fall allergies will also be back in force in parts of the country, affecting millions of Americans, AccuWeather forecasters say.
Meteorological fall officially begins on September 1, and astronomical fall begins on the day of the fall equinox, which will be on September 22 of this year.
Fall allergies are usually triggered by ragweed, and pollen from these types of plants common in North America can travel as far as the wind blows it. Another cause of allergies in the fall is mold, which can grow in piles of damp leaves.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ragweed is one of the biggest pollen producers and the biggest contributor to seasonal allergies in the fall. A ragweed plant can produce billions of pollen grains each year. About 23 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, commonly known as hay fever, due to the effects of ragweed, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAII).
According to the ACAII, allergies to falls can trigger a plethora of unpleasant symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy throat and eye irritation. The severity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, can exacerbate symptoms caused by asthma.
The onset of symptoms can begin even before the first official day of fall, and the duration and intensity of symptoms can be significantly influenced by weather conditions. And, this year, distinguishing these COVID-19 symptoms caused by the delta variant could complicate matters even further.
Most areas will need a “hard frost” that lasts a few days in order to see a complete stop in the pollen season, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert. Some areas will be lucky to get this freeze sooner, but some places further south might not cool down as quickly, resulting in an extended allergy season.
Those who live around the Great Lakes will be lucky if they suffer from allergies in the fall. Colder air will enter the area early, Reppert says, and while many may miss the warmer weather, it will end allergy season this fall.
In the central and southern plains, those with allergies will not be so lucky. Temperatures in the region will go up and down and are not expected to drop soon enough – or for long enough – to bring the pollen season to an early end.
The plains to the north and northwest will start to see cooler air coming in earlier than places to the south, but they can expect an average pollen season overall, with the exception of the Washington State, much of Montana and northern Idaho where pollen levels are expected to be high this fall due to persistent heat and precipitation to arrive in the area.
While the Southwest has battled drought for much of the summer, anything that can grow despite the lack of rainfall will continue to produce pollen for most of the fall.
“Drought can help the pollen season in the southwest a bit, however, as a lack of rain prevents any weeds or grass from growing,” Reppert explained.
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AccuWeather forecasters warn that while not a manual allergen, continuous smoke from wildfires can sometimes contribute to poor air quality, which could exacerbate symptoms people with respiratory, lung and heart disease and even those without pre-existing conditions in the western United States. States this fall. This season is set to rank among the five worst wildfire years on record.
A much different threat is in store for the people who live along the opposite coast of the United States. Tropical impacts are expected to continue along the east coast, and Reppert explained that the active tropical season could result in a longer allergy season from Florida to the mid-Atlantic.
“Tropical weather would mean more humidity, which would prevent vegetation from sleeping,” said Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather. “It would also signal warmer temperatures, which, again, would keep vegetation thriving.”
The significant amount of precipitation could also trigger more mold growth, according to Kines.
The southeast in particular is expected to experience the brunt of the seasonal sniffles, with high pollen levels in the forecast. The Gulf Coast also experiences a prolonged allergy season. “Allergy season along much of the Gulf never goes away completely,” Reppert said. “But it drops significantly” towards the start of winter.
(Tanja Ristic / iStock / Getty Images)
The fall pollen forecast for the northeastern United States is split.
In the Adirondacks and in central and northern New England, residents will likely only have to endure a short allergy season due to an early season frost that should be combined with minimum precipitation. In the southern part of New York state to the mid-Atlantic, however, the story will play out in a very different way, as above-normal humidity and tropical threats continue into the fall. will lead to a worse allergy season.
To protect yourself from the effects of pollen, the CDC recommends keeping abreast of the pollen forecast, which can be done easily by using the AccuWeather app and checking the AccuWeather.com forecast.
Kines explained that the wind plays an important role in seasonal allergies because it can move pollen hundreds of miles from the source. Wind direction is also important, especially along the coasts, he explained. For example, along the east coast, an easterly wind off the ocean can provide relief to allergy sufferers, as pollen is not carried in this case.
The CDC also recommends that people with pollen allergies avoid touching their eyes when they are outdoors, keep windows closed, shower after going out, and use air filters in the home.
People with allergies should consult an allergist on the best plan to control symptoms.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing in the United States, many people may fear that their allergy symptoms are in fact due to COVID-19. Additionally, evidence indicates that COVID-19 is a seasonal virus that gets worse in cold weather, meaning more people are likely to be infected as temperatures drop.
According to Dr. Murray Ramanathan, director of Johns Hopkins Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the Greater Washington area and associate professor of otolaryngology, there are simple ways to distinguish the two sets of symptoms.
“These are two conditions that can cause very similar symptoms: stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, drainage,” Ramanathan told AccuWeather. “The kind of telltale signs of allergy that might be different from the symptoms of COVID-19 are really itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat.”
A summer school student is tested for COVID-19 at the EN White School Nursing Office in Holyoke, Massachusetts on Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Schools across the United States are on the verge of start a new year amid a flood of money bigger than they’ve ever seen before, an injection of pandemic aid that’s four times the amount the U.S. Department of Education sends K-12 schools over the course of a typical year. (AP Photo / Charles Krupa)
“The other thing is that the allergy symptoms increase and decrease,” he explained.
While things like pollen counts can worsen or improve allergy symptoms day by day, symptoms of COVID-19 tend to gradually get worse.
The delta variant and the vaccines made spotting symptoms even more difficult.
Ramanathan said that because the virus is constantly changing and each person’s body responds to it differently, it can become more difficult to tell whether or not someone will have symptoms similar to allergies. In addition, the understanding of the symptoms of the coronavirus is constantly evolving.
With the original strain of the coronavirus, many people suffered from a fever that worked as a telltale sign that their symptoms were not related to an allergy. Ramanathan, however, said people who are vaccinated generally do not experience a fever when infected with the delta variant.
People who don’t have a fever may instead examine their other symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell, to determine if they are beyond their typical allergy symptoms.
Whether or not a person should be involved depends on the context, such as how many people they have been in contact with or whether they have been exposed, Ramanathan explained. He said that a person who recently went to a big concert may want to get tested for COVID-19 more easily than a person who was just hiking outside and exposed to allergens. According to Ramanathan, it’s “reasonable” for a person to take allergy medication to see if symptoms improve, but he advised to watch closely if symptoms worsen.
“If you feel your condition is getting worse, it is reasonable to get tested for COVID, especially if the symptoms are progressive,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is put it down to allergies and keep thinking it’s allergies and then it’s going to be COVID.”
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