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Vernon Hills area specialists discuss a seasonal risk: fall allergy symptoms

You may look forward to the crisp fall air or the changing of the leaves. If you’re an allergy sufferer, though, autumn brings suffering as well as beautiful foliage and a chill in the air.

The Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois is here fall and year-round to properly diagnose the cause of your disruptive symptoms so that you can get relief.

Seasonal allergies

There are many types of allergies. You may be allergic to some insects, foods, or drugs. Any time you come in contact with these allergens swelling, nausea, hives or even severe respiratory problems may arise. These types of allergies are not driven by a change of season.

While all allergies are caused by the immune system’s overreaction to a substance, some allergic symptoms occur during certain times of the year. They don’t wreak havoc year-round.

Spring allergies typically begin in February and last into the summer. Weather-related changes drive the timing and severity of seasonal allergies. For instance, a mild winter means plants may pollinate early and trigger a long spring allergy season, which can last well into the fall should there be lots of rain conducive to plant growth.

The tiny fertilizing grains released by trees, grasses, and weeds (known as pollen) are a key trigger. Allergies to pollen are also known as “hay fever.” Some of the key offenders include:
  • Oak, willow, maple, cedar, and cottonwood trees
  • Saltgrass, sweet vernal, Timothy and other grasses and weeds
One of the biggest culprits responsible for fall allergies is ragweed. This plant grows wild and is particularly prevalent in our neck of the Midwest. As the nights grow longer between August and November, the ragweed flowers mature. The offending pollen is released at a rate of 1 billion grains per plant each season.

Ragweed can also travel far, up to 400 miles in water and 2 miles in the air, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. Accounting for these factors, it probably comes as no surprise that a reported 75 percent of allergy sufferers are allergic to ragweed.

Many ragweed-related symptoms affect the middle part of the face. You may have:
  • Itchy eyes, nose, throat
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Chronic sinusitis
Since mold and mildew seeds or spores travel with the wind, you may also find yourself struggling with sneezing, itching, congestion, and skin irritation caused by allergies to this type of fungi. Furthermore, some mold spores are released on foggy or damp days. Molds can even grow on fallen leaves, as well as rotting logs and compost piles.

Severe mold allergies are associated with asthma and other lung-related problems.


Since allergists such as Drs. Askenazi and Hahn understand how the risks of grass, mold, and other allergies are greater due to climactic conditions, they can advise you or a loved one on ways to avoid these triggers. Many resources are even available on this website to help you monitor the likes of pollen counts. Lifestyle modifications may include avoiding the outdoors during high pollen counts, usually mid-day. Air filters help to remove pollen and trap spores. Cleaning yourself and your clothes after working outdoors can help to manage the allergen’s effects, as can aggressive cleaning of moist areas indoors (such as the basement) that promote mildew.

After determining (usually with skin tests) that you are allergic to these substances, Drs. Askenazi and Hahn may prescribe one or more control medications. Immunotherapy or allergy shots may reduce or even eliminate symptoms of some allergies over time. To assess your fall allergy risk in Vernon Hills, call 847-888-8802 to schedule an appointment.

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