There aren’t pollens, grasses and blooms only in spring: allergies can also occur “out of season”, causing sneezing and runny nose also in autumn with new pollens, dust mites and mold, without giving respite to patients.
Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, professor of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology at Humanitas University, spoke about this topic in an interview.
Pollen present in autumn, also due to climate change
If for allergy sufferers walking in the open air in spring is forbidden because of continuous sneezing, runny nose and tearful eyes, the autumn period could prove even worse: contrary to what you might think, “the months of October and November, in fact, have a climate that promotes the spread of pollen of some plants,” explained Canonica, “also because of the climate change of recent years, which has become annoying for those suffering from allergies from plants that were once harmless in this season.
Molds and mites: unwanted guests within the walls of the House
What one would not expect is to suffer from allergies even indoor or within the walls of the house. Instead, explained the professor, “during the autumn months, facilitated by the warmth of the heating, allergens such as mold and dust mites proliferate in the house”.
The natural humid climate of autumn, in particular due to the seasonal rains, combined with the heat of the radiators in the house, are a perfect combination to give life to some mold, precisely, such as aspergillus or alternaria, which find an ideal habitat to survive and spread indoors and in poorly ventilated areas – such as closets, garages and cellars.
“Another danger with regard to ‘domestic’ allergies is dust mites – added the professor. They are small spider-like animals, not visible to the naked eye, that become unwanted guests of fabrics, carpets, sofas and mattresses. There, they survive about a month and every day they manage to release about 2000 tiny particles of excrement that, if inhaled, are powerful allergens,” concluded Canonica.
The first step to combat allergies within the walls of the house is obviously a thorough cleaning, useful to remove the dust in which mites and excrements that cause sneezing and red eyes in allergy sufferers nest in particular. In the most acute moments, when prevention and ‘reclamation’ of mattresses, sofas, carpets, curtains and carpets are not enough, it is necessary to resort to antihistamines, on the advice of the doctor.
Fighting allergies: tests to diagnose them and antihistamine drugs
The so-called prick tests are used to diagnose allergies: they are fast skin tests that, through the injection and contact with the skin – usually the forearm – of small quantities of certain allergens (molds, mites, pollens and grasses), reveal the reactions of our organism.
For a more in-depth investigation, the research through a blood sample of specific IgE immunoglobulins can also be added to this test:
“For some years now, in clinical practice, allergological molecular diagnostics have also been used: thanks to a blood sample it is possible to identify between 100 and 200 components of the allergen responsible for the allergic reaction. This allows us to identify the real cause of the allergy and study a targeted treatment,” explains Professor Canonica.
Moreover, the care dedicated to allergy sufferers is personalized and varies according to the symptoms that each patient manifests. In general, everyone is advised to perform 1-2 nasal washes a day with a saline solution, to help remove pollen from the nostrils – which causes sneezing – and breathe better.
“For rhinitis antihistamine drugs or a combination of inhalation steroid with antihistamine, and nasal spray can be useful,” explained Canonica, while those who also suffer from eye discomfort and conjunctivitis must “resort to antihistamine eye drops or sodium chromoglycate, which reduce burning and tearing”.
Finally, if we want to say goodbye to allergy forever there is “specific immunotherapy that, thanks to the administration of minimal and progressive doses of mites, pollens or mold, in 95% of cases can desensitize the patient,” explained the professor. Immunotherapy is administered subcutaneously or sublingually, with rates that change depending on the type of allergen. To be effective, the therapy must be carried out for at least three years.