Is there an allergy to fallen leaves?
WHY DOES ALLERGY OCCUR IN AUTUMN?
Autumn. For people with allergies, this is usually the time when you can finally breathe a sigh of relief after a long period of seasonal allergies. The one caused by plant pollen. They are known to bloom from March to October.
But for many years, Ukrainian doctors have noticed that in the fall there is an exacerbation of respiratory diseases. And we are not talking about colds. In autumn, the frequency of visits to hospitals, including children with asthma, increases.
What can cause them, and whether it could be a reaction to fallen leaves, let’s talk further.
In fact, there can be several reasons for unpleasant autumn symptoms. In particular, this is a sharp change in temperature. Often in the morning in autumn, especially late, it can be quite cold. And the cold is one of the well-known asthma triggers.
If the autumn is dry and warm, then plant pollen can still remain in the air. Particularly ambrosia. This queen of the Ukrainian pool of allergenic plants is distributed almost throughout Ukraine. However, it is especially active in causing allergy symptoms in the Southern and Eastern regions. Here, ragweed pollen can be in the air until the autumn frosts.
Another allergic factor in autumn is fungal spores. Everyone knows well that it is better to go to the forest for mushrooms in late summer and autumn. After all, many mushrooms ripen and form their fruiting bodies, which, in fact, people call mushrooms, during the warm season. And just in time for autumn, just like vegetables and fruits, edible mushrooms also ripen.
But when we talk about the spores of mushrooms in the air, we are not talking about honey mushrooms or russula that we understand. During the warm and humid season, thousands of mushroom species grow around us. Most of the time we don’t see them. And if we see, then, as a rule, in the form of mold.
Such mushrooms reproduce, as you might guess, with the help of spores. They are microscopic, invisible, and in greater or lesser quantities these disputes always surround us.
Alternaria fungus spores are a well-known and proven factor in allergies in many countries of the world . In particular, in Ukraine, according to molecular diagnostics of allergies, a quarter of people with seasonal allergies are sensitive to them.
The highest concentrations of these spores are recorded in summer. But in autumn, when there is no pollen in the air, and the reproduction of fungi continues in warm autumn weather, it is fungal spores that become the main factor in allergies.
WHERE IS AUTUMN ALLERGEN HIDING?
It is not difficult to guess where these mushrooms can breed. So, fallen leaves are an excellent source of food for them. Dead plant cells are good nutritional material not only for Alternaria , but also for many other fungi. In particular, those whose spores also have allergenic properties. These are relatives of Alternaria epicoccum , ulocladium , stemphylium , pleospore , and other fungi that parasitize plants. This may be cladosporium , the allergenicity of which in Ukraine has been established for residents of regions with high humidity – the Black Sea and Western regions.
In addition, it is fungal spores that have been considered by Western scientists in recent years as significant triggers of asthma. After all, as a rule, mushrooms throw out spores in tens of thousands. And where spores are released into the air, their concentrations can be significant. And in autumn, the place where fungal spores accumulate is, first of all, a forest and a park area. Do you remember that mushroom smell in the forest after the rain? Last but not least, it is formed because mushrooms vegetate more actively in wet weather , that is, they grow, and more actively throw out their spores. Some of them are specially adapted to be thrown into the air during and after precipitation.
Therefore, often in people who are allergic to fungal spores, unpleasant sensations appear precisely after rain.
Therefore, if you experience strange manifestations – coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and possibly asthmatic symptoms – when walking in the autumn forest, it is worth considering whether you, by chance, have a reaction to fungal spores. Especially if you feel such symptoms in a forest or park after rain. Particularly in autumn. Spore concentrations increase strongly after precipitation. Especially – in shady places, next to bushes, where air ventilation is not very good.
Moreover, it does not have to be exactly the classic manifestations of allergies. After all, mushroom spores are also known for their ability to provoke asthma. It is she, according to doctors, that is the most common reason for children to visit allergists in the fall. But often such asthma has an allergic nature and is called allergic asthma.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SEE A DOCTOR?
So, if you feel bad while walking in the autumn forest, think about whether you have an autumn allergy.
Especially if you already have symptoms of seasonal allergies and/or asthma. After all, their presence can often aggravate your well-being in the forest. And so that the symptoms do not recur, you should not bring autumn leaves from the forest or park to your home.
And don’t hesitate to see a doctor who can help determine the cause of your symptoms. After all, being uncontrollable, they will only worsen with each passing year.