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Fall allergies

Are fall allergies affecting you?

Fall allergies are almost in full swing this year and the number one culprit is ragweed. We met with Dr. Alan Redding and Dr. David Redding, twin brothers and board-certified allergists at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, to learn more.

How do fall and spring allergies differ?

“The symptoms of fall allergies are the same as the symptoms of spring allergies,” says Alan Redding, M.D., an allergist at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. Symptoms can include a stuffy or runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.

“However the causes of fall allergies are different. In the spring, trees and grass are far and away the biggest cause of allergies,” he continues. “In the fall, ragweed is the main cause.”

Why allergies occur

How do we become allergic to something like ragweed in the first place? According to David Redding, M.D., an allergist at Piedmont, allergies occur when “one part of the immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to a specific external trigger, such as ragweed, cats or dust mites.”

Fall Allergy Season

“About 75 percent of people who have springtime allergies also will have fall allergies from ragweed,” says Dr. Alan Redding. “Fall allergies started in late August, which in Atlanta is fairly early. They’ll probably continue for as long as it takes for the temperature to go below freezing. If we have a longer than normal fall, it will definitely be a longer allergy season.”

Allergy Treatment Options

To find out your allergy triggers, the easiest option is skin testing. “We can perform skin testing in the office and in 15 minutes have the answers,” says Dr. Alan Redding. “Once we identify the allergens, we’ve accomplished half the battle. Then we can recommend the best treatment plan for the patient. “The best treatment plan for people with allergies is immunotherapy or allergy shots. Immunotherapy can actually desensitize someone to those allergens and eliminate their symptoms completely so they don’t need to rely on medications or avoidance measures for the rest of their life,” he says.

Dr. David Redding adds that prescription nasal spray medications, such as nasal steroids or antihistamine nasal sprays, can help nasal congestion. These prescriptions are typically more effective than over-the-counter oral antihistamines.

When should you see an allergy specialist?

“When a patient has symptoms that bother them to the point that they feel they need to take medications frequently, or they are seeing their doctor too often, or missing work or school too often, these are signs that they need a definitive treatment and perhaps curative treatment for their allergies,” says Dr. Alan Redding.

If you have been suffering from fall allergies and they are affecting your everyday life, ask your doctor to refer you to an allergist. These specialists can determine the best treatment plan to alleviate your allergy symptoms.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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