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November 2022 Update

FAQ: Why do I have fall allergies now when I never did before?

If you feel like your fall allergies are extra bad this year, it’s not in your head. The days are getting shorter, the air is getting crisper, the leaves are changing colors—and fall allergies are in full swing. Most of us associate seasonal allergies with springtime, but more and more people have been battling runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats come autumn.  With fire seasons, changes in what is planted in the Rogue Valley, and pollens settling in the bowl of the Valley, more Southern Oregonians are finding that now they are having allergies, even if they never have before.


If you feel like you’re allergic to October itself when you never suffered previously, it’s actually true.  A growing body of research suggests that pollen seasons—which in the fall typically lasts between early August through November—are now 21% longer than they were in 1990.  And as the air swells with microscopic allergens, your immune system triggers all kinds of unpleasant symptoms, which may include lesser known symptoms of neck tension, headaches, vertigo, and lymph node swelling that can accompany some of the worst allergy flare-ups.


Why do fall allergies seem to be getting worse each year?

The plants that cause seasonal allergies—most commonly ragweed in the fall—have had longer growing seasons. These plants once died out by October when the winter frost typically arrived and killed them off, but the first frost often doesn’t appear until November now, as evidenced by the unusually warm October weather we had this year in the Rogue Valley.


Some projections suggest that levels of ragweed pollen will double between the years 2000 and 2060. This will likely exacerbate symptoms in people who already have seasonal allergies and possibly lead to a spike in the number of people who newly experience them.


How to deal when your fall allergy symptoms feel unbearable

You can also keep your symptoms at bay by allergy-proofing your home as much as you can: Keep your windows closed, run an air purifier, and clean regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter if you can.


There are a handful of other “natural” remedies (such as D-Hist and saturated Chamomile tea) and over-the-counter allergy meds—including nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants, among others—that can help alleviate your symptoms, but know it may take a bit of experimentation to find a treatment strategy that works best for you.


Of course, with any treatment plan, you’ll want to talk to an SOSR physician to weigh the pros and cons.  It can be tough to completely avoid allergens like ragweed, but the sooner you get ahead of your symptoms, the better off you’ll feel—especially as allergy season keeps a firmer grip on fall.