Summer is viewed as the classic allergy and hay fever season – caused by tree and grass pollen, but actually autumn has its own lesser known, specific set of allergy triggers as well. Autumn seasonal allergies in the UK have a whole different set of allergic hazards including mould spores and weed pollen. With the switch to more indoor living during autumn the more year-round autumn allergies reasons are more likely to cause symptoms. Dust mites and pet dander allergies tend to get worse as central heating use increases, windows are closed all day and less time is spent outdoors due to colder weather.
Can you get allergies in autumn?
Every so often some people are surprised when they ask can you get allergies in autumn and the answer is yes. In the UK, autumn is considered peak allergy season! Perfect conditions lead to troublesome mould spores and dust mite allergens to thrive.
In the UK, Autumn begins in September and ends in November. Autumnal allergies UK will slowly begin to creep there way in as September begins, with both the grass pollen season and weed pollen season ending. The weather becomes cooler, and significantly damper, which can increase the amount of mould spores.
As the season begins to change, leaves will be more plentiful on the floor. It is important to keep clearing them to limit the amount of mould growth.
Moving on to October, this is when more often than not symptoms associated with autumn allergies are caused by mould spores and dust mites. Damp weather increases the amount of airborne mould spores that would often be seen outside, can also be seen inside during this period. Outdoors’s allergies will typically flare due to woodland areas, forests and gardens harbouring fungi.
November is more of the same before winter arrives in December. Damp weather will continue to create a perfect environment for dust mites and mould spores, so try to always keep an eye on moisture levels in your house.
So, whilst the answer to can you get allergies in autumn is yes, the allergies experienced in autumn are often caused by entirely different allergens. If you are experiencing allergies during the summer and also during the autumn, you may be allergic to just more than pollen.
What causes allergies in autumn?
Now that you know that allergies during autumn are a thing, the next question is obviously what causes allergies in autumn?
One of the three main causes of allergies in autumn uk are house dust mites. Although they can be found all year round, they reach their peak during Autumn and Winter.
House dust mites are tiny insects that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They live off human skin scales which have been partially digested by moulds and thrive in humid environments. They are often found in bedding, carpets, soft furnishing and clothing.
Autumn seasonal allergies that are caused by dust mites are often associated with asthma, eczema, and perennial allergic rhinitis.
Keeping the number of dust mites in your home under control can help minimise allergic symptoms. Areas that are used a lot, such as your bedroom or living room, should be concentrated on most.
Common symptoms of a dust mite allergy include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
- Itchy skin
- Postnasal drip
People with asthma may also notice their asthma triggering more frequently when in the presence of dust mites and also experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- A whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
To help autumn seasonal allergies during the Autumn months connected with dust mites, the following is advised:
- Keep your home well ventilated and free from damp
- Get rid of carpet over concrete floors and replace them with wood or vinyl flooring
- Use blinds that can be regularly cleaned
- Wash bed sheets and blankets weekly in hot water
- Try to keep the humidity of your home less than 50%
Next on the list of causes of autumnal allergies uk are mould spores. Similar to dust mites, mould can be found all year round but reaches its peak in mild, wet autumn weather, especially when moisture builds up.
Mould spores are prolific everywhere. They include the black mould that forms on window frames and others that are found on decaying food, as well as mushrooms and fungi that can be found in the wild. It is often difficult to determine how much mould a person is expose to because of how widespread it is.
For mould to survive, they need moisture, oxygen and food. Food can be anything from minerals to sugars to decaying matter. They are not fussy eaters and will gladly eat it if it helps them.
Modern homes are a breeding ground for mould allergy autumn symptoms due to plenty of moisture, oxygen and food. During autumn and winter months, ventilation if often poor due to closed windows. Autumn months will also see people turning on their central heating and keeping good insulation, perfect environments for mould spores.
Mould spores are often released when environmental changes occur. Some examples include:
- When moist conditions become warm
- When the central heating is first switched on in a damp house
- When plants are brough into a warmer environment
Mould allergy autumn symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Itching eyes, throat and nose
Short-term exposure to mould spores may not cause any harm, but long-term exposure can cause severe symptoms. Mould can produce something called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Chemical sensitivity can be triggered and cause tiredness, headaches and depression.
Last on the list of autumn allergy symptoms causes is…you guessed it, pollen. Pollen allergy in autumn is actually very common, but isn’t caused by pollen from trees or grass. It is instead caused by weed pollen.
Similar to tree pollen, there are different types of weed pollens that can trigger autumn allergy symptoms.
- Ragweed pollen. Ragweed is an upright plant which, when looked at closely, has leaves that are fern-like.
- Nettle pollen. A very common weed found across the UK, nettles actually cause few allergies (but do cause horrible stings).
- Dock pollen. Found in meadows and some coastal areas, the pollen this produces can cause common hay fever symptoms.
- Mugwort pollen. This type has the ability to grow over two meters, and can be identified by its red/brown colour and small flowers.
- Plantain pollen. Not to be confused with the delicious banana like fruit, this is a short plant and its leaves can be found growing directly from the soil.
Typically, people only suffer from hay fever during spring due to tree pollen and summer due to grass pollen. However, some people may find that they are allergic to weed pollen, which reaches its peak in the Autumn.
To better manage pollen allergy in autumn, you can:
- Follow pollen forecast and stay indoors during high pollen count days
- Avoid drying clothes and bedding outside on high pollen days
- Keep doors and windows shut whenever possible
- Make sure to change and shower if you have been outside
- Avoid grassy areas, especially in the early morning, evening, or night as this is when pollen is at its peak
- Control symptoms with antihistamines