Sufferers of “seasonal allergies”… are you sure it’s just the pollen making you sneeze?
If your alleged allergy symptoms last longer than a few days, or if your normal allergy medications don’t seem to be working, you may be dealing with a different allergy altogether. And if your allergy symptoms are still going strong when the leaves start to change, we might have the answer for you.
Fall mold allergies may be the problem. These allergies present with the same symptoms you’re probably used to, but they require different treatment to get rid of them.
Find out where fall mold allergies come from and how to deal with them below.
Symptoms of Fall Mold Allergies
You’ll probably go straight from summer allergies to fall ones without noticing much difference. The symptoms of fall mold are the same as other allergies:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Restlessness during the night
- Shortness of breath
Mold exposure can also make asthma and other conditions worse. If you can’t seem to get your asthma symptoms under control, mold could be to blame.
And you may not realize that mold can have other effects on the body, like skin rashes, headaches, and insomnia.
Fall Mold Allergy Origins
During the fall, ragweed may be dying out, but other things that can make mold allergies worse are surfacing. Some flowers and weeds bloom in fall, but they aren’t the reason for fall mold allergies.
The biggest culprit of fall mold is decaying leaves.
Leaves and foliage that has fallen to the ground forms layers, and between these layers, moisture gets trapped. As you may know, moisture + warmth + food = mold. These conditions are perfect in early fall in most parts of the U.S.
The problem is that you can’t control where leaves fall. They are going to be around your home and where you walk, so you can get mold on your shoes and track it into your home.
Another common cause of fall mold is rotting décor.
Many people chose to decorate their home with pumpkins, squash, corn stalks, mums and other fall vegetation this time of year. They look beautiful for a time, but they can develop mold and rot being out in the weather. When you leave them on your porch or front steps for too long, mold can develop, exposing you to mold spores every time you walk by.
Fall is also a wet time of year for many regions of the country.
Combined with so much loose vegetation on the ground, precipitation helps to create the perfect environment for mold growth. Moisture is the main ingredient for mold growth (after mold spores, of course). Wherever there is excess moisture, there is a great risk for mold.
Preventing Mold Exposure During Fall
Remember that mold that you can see is not the cause of your allergic reaction. It’s the mold you can’t see — the microscopic spores in the air — that make you sick.
Just because you don’t see any mold doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Mold grows in soil, on trees, and even on the exterior of your home. You can’t fully avoid mold. It’s even in the air we breathe. Fortunately, small amounts of mold don’t cause any type of reaction for most people.
It’s large amounts of mold — or prolonged exposure — that can make you really sick. If you have a mold allergy or a respiratory condition, you want to limit mold exposure as much as possible.
Here are a few ways to reduce your mold exposure during fall:
- Don’t rake leaves. As we explained above, these leaves are a huge source of fall mold. Pay someone else to do your yardwork this time of year to avoid breathing in mold spores from the rotting leaves.
- Get rid of fall décor. As soon as you notice that your fall decorations are looking worse for wear, throw them out begin to rot.
- Don’t ride around with your windows down or open the windows at home. As beautiful as the weather is, you will be letting free-floating mold spores into your car or your home. This can lead to an interior mold problem in the winter when things stay sealed up.
- Install a HEPA filter. Take filtration a step further with an EPA-approved HEPA filter inside your home to help catch tiny mold spores.
- Take your shoes off outside.– Shoes should never be worn indoors, especially on carpet and rugs. Tracking moisture and mold into your home means that only a food source is required for mold to grow in your home.
- Wipe pets off before coming inside. It may seem a little over-the-top, but your pets can bring in mold, pollen and other allergens. At least wipe their feet off so they don’t bring in dirt along with these other impurities.
Treating Fall Mold Allergies
We’ll start with the most important way to treat your fall allergies: try to rid your home of mold as much as possible.
The best way to do this is to have your home tested for mold. Pure Maintenance of St. Louis can test your home and remove any mold that is found. This is the only sure way to truly get rid of mold inside your home.
As far as mold outside, you can’t truly get rid of it, but you can have your yard cleaned up during the fall to reduce the amount of leaves decomposing in your yard.
You may also need a corticosteroid from your doctor to get rid mold allergy symptoms. Fall mold allergies can cause inflammation in your respiratory system which leads to shortness of breath, coughing, congestion and many other symptoms.