Do you have Fall allergies or a cold?

Walking dog in a forest during FallFall brings itchy and watery eyes, a scratchy throat, sneezing, and even headaches for some allergy sufferers. We blame the changing air, grass and trees, but many don’t know exactly which allergens are to blame for their symptoms. Fall allergies seem especially sneaky. The seasonal allergens subtly permeate the air around August or September, catching many by surprise. As the weather changes, some doubt that they really have allergies and wonder if instead they have contracted a cold. This confusion makes Fall allergies even trickier.

So how do you distinguish Fall allergies? How do you know what to do if you don’t know what you are allergic to? Here’s some help!

First of all, rule out the common cold.

If you have symptoms like a runny nose, stuffy head, a sore throat or itchy eyes and they don’t disappear after four or five days, there’s a good chance you are suffering from allergies, not a virus like a cold. The presence of a fever can be an indicator of a virus, not of allergies.

Second, find out what causes your allergies.

When your symptoms persist, it’s a good idea to research what allergens are affecting people who live in your area. Of course, a trip to your allergist is the best way to find out exactly what’s causing your symptoms. If that’s not possible, there are other ways to discover which allergens affect you the most.

Many resources, like and sites created by allergy medication manufacturers, offer local allergen tracking. See which days your symptoms seem to be at their worst and look at the pollen counts in your area. Keep a record and you may be able to track the trends of your worsening symptoms with the increase of certain allergens.

Here are a few of the most common fall allergy offenders by region:


In the northeast, the most common Fall allergies are weed-related. Both nettle weed and ragweed top the list. With increased moisture, mold allergies can also be a factor.


Weeds top the allergens list in this region. Be on the lookout for nettleweed and ragweed here, too.


Though the Southwest is generally considered a more “allergy-friendly” place to live, watch for chenopod weeds if you feel your allergies flare in this part of the country.


In the west, sweet vernal grass, pigweed and iodine bush can cause the biggest Fall allergy problems.

Talk to your America’s Best optometrist if Fall allergies are affecting your eyes. On high allergy days, you may also want to limit the amount of time you spend outdoors if possible. Also, be prepared and have your back-up eyeglasses, some re-wetting drops for your contact lenses or prescribed or over-the-counter medicated eye drops during the day. Your optometrist will have good suggestions to keep your eyes comfortable during all allergy seasons.


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