NORTH CANTON – Eli James is feeling the effects of fall allergies.
The North Canton resident gets watery eyes and an itchy throat when the seasons begin to change, especially during the transition from summer to fall. And the pollen flares up his asthma, too.
“I’ve definitely noticed (my allergies) more this year,” he said.
He’s not alone. Fall allergy season is in full effect in Northeast Ohio, and residents of Stark County are experiencing a range of symptoms.
AccuWeather’s 2022 Fall Allergy Forecast shows that Ohio is likely to see a lot of pollen this fall and could last into late October. Cleveland Clinic Akron General Allergist Dr. Bela Faltay said weather forecasters expect this see occasional turbulent weather this year, which could trigger allergies in people.
Ragweed is the source of most fall pollen allergies
Faltay said ragweed is the main culprit of fall allergies. The plant is found primarily in the eastern and midwestern states, and according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, each plant can produce up to a billion grains of pollen.
“About mid-August, 90% to 95% of the pollen is ragweed,” Faltay said. “And that will continue and usually peak around Labor Day, but it will continue until the first hard frost or until the end of September.”
Weather conditions play an important role in the length and severity of the fall allergy season.
Ragweed thrives in warm, wet environments. That means the longer temperatures stay high, the longer people will suffer from seasonal allergies.
But allergies persist even as temperatures begin to drop. Faltay said mold becomes a bigger problem after the ragweed season ends. Mold becomes airborne when farmers harvest crops, and piles of fallen leaves often become breeding grounds for mold.
Fall also sees a surge in indoor dust mites as households turn off their air conditioners. Faltay said dust mites prefer moist environments because they get water from water vapor.
“The three of those (allergens) don’t play well together,” he said. “One will prepare you for the other.”
Is it seasonal allergies, a viral infection or COVID?
Symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and drainage are most commonly associated with seasonal allergies, but they can also be indicators of a viral infection.
Faltay said allergy symptoms are usually consistent from year to year.
“If you’re someone who suffers from fall allergies, and the timeout is about the same as last year, that’s not unusual… if it’s a new time frame or if you have other factors of concern, such as loss of sense of smell, then you have to worry about other infections,” he said.
If a person experiences a fever or muscle aches in addition to the usual allergy symptoms, it could mean that he or she has an infection.
How can I relieve my allergy symptoms?
Allergy sufferers can take a nasal steroid before the fall season starts to reduce symptoms ahead of time. Medications such as antihistamines and azelastine can help minimize the effects of allergies.
Faltay said it’s important to consider how medication will affect you before taking it. Medications like Benadryl can cause drowsiness, he said, and lead to fall risks for seniors.
“We are of course always very concerned about people using them and performing functions like driving,” he said.
How are the residents of Stark County doing this year?
On a recent Friday morning in North Canton’s Price Park, several Stark County residents described a mix of allergy experiences ranging from mild to severe.
Some, like Spring Schumacher and her 3-year-old daughter Gemma, have noticed that their allergies are acting up more than usual this year, but their symptoms are still mild.
Schumacher lives in Canton and said her allergies tend to be worse in the fall than in the spring. Her daughter’s allergies, she said, have been much worse this fall compared to previous seasons.
Meanwhile, North Canton resident Judy Forsythe and her friend, Sue Stansloski of Massillon, both said seasonal allergies haven’t been much of a problem lately.
The women said they use products like Claritin and Flonase when their allergies kick in, but have been largely unaffected by them in recent years.
Reach Paige at (330) 580-8577 or [email protected] or on Twitter at @paigembenn.