Feeling KOOL – FALL Allergies in Arizona

Spring is not the ONLY time for allergies.  Say HELLO to your Fall allergies.

What’s Blooming ?

Over the next 3 months, there is a considerable increase in pollen counts, mainly from Bermuda grass and weeds that grow during and after the summer “monsoon.”   Summer rain produces a vigorous growth of grasses and weeds which usually contributes to high pollen counts.  In the late fall Desert Broom releases enormous numbers of white fluffy seeds that fly in the wind and are probably not allergenic.  However its invisible pollen,  released from the plant weeks before the fluffy seeds fly, may be an allergen for some people.  Plants that contribute to the pollen count, in order of importance are:

Sunflower family
Tamarix (Salt Cedar)

Mold Spores

  • Atmospheric mold counts, particularly Alternaria, rise progressively after the monsoon is over in late September, reaching the the highest levels in the year.

Outdoor Pollution

  • Temperature inversions in the fall increase air pollution, mainly from increased levels of particulates.  In hot weather during the early fall, ozone levels may be high in the afternoons.

Indoor Environment

  • Evaporative cooling becomes efficient again in the dry weather, but if the cooler was on during the monsoon the pads should be changed because they could be loaded with algae and mold.

Seasonal Disease

  • Allergic rhinitis increases in severity in the fall, due to increased pollen counts.
  • Asthma also increases in the fall soon after children go back to school in early September and viral respiratory infections begin.  Asthma in the fall may also result from increase in the counts of airborne mold spores and pollen.


  • Take your prescribed medications regularlyIf you have asthma, recommended treatment includes anti-inflammatory preventive or controller medicines (inhaled steroids such as budesonide, Alvesco, Pulmicort, Asmanex, Flovent, QVAR and Aerobid, combination drugs such as Advair, Dulera and Symbicort, or other controller drugs such as Singulair, Accolate, Zyflo, and Zafirlukast).  If you thought (mistakenly) that you did not need them because of improvement during the summer, it is time to be sure that they are now taken regularly.  If your asthma is moderately severe, ask your doctor for a a supply of prednisone to keep handy in case of a sudden attack that needs immediate treatment.  Children over age 6 months with asthma and asthmatic adults should get the standard influenza and H1N1 vaccines each year, usually available in October.
  • Fertilize and water Bermuda grass lawns liberally.  Cut the lawn once a week.
  • Remove weeds that grow during the monsoon.  For advice go to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Center for details on how to do this (Tucson phone (520) 626-5161, Phoenix phone (602) 470-8086 ext 323).
  • If you have moderate or severe allergy to pollen, wear a dust/pollen mask (obtainable in pharmacies) when working outdoors.
  • Stay indoors during windy weather.
  • If your evaporative cooler does not have a purge pump, change pads and water once a month during evaporative cooler operation.
  • If you have refrigerated air conditioning,  consider obtaining an air purifier with a HEPA filter for the bedroom.
  • For control of indoor allergens at any time of the year, see Limiting Exposure to Allergens in the Home.
More from Maria and Chad

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