Allergies in Summer?
Pollen, insect bites, and mold—coming to a nose and throat near you
Spring allergies make sense, but summer? The season for swimming, baseball, and cookouts isn’t the time of year many people think of allergies, but for some allergy sufferers, summer is just as bad or even worse than spring or fall. Even though most trees have stopped blooming, there are plenty of other sources that throw off your immune response and cause a host of unpleasant allergy symptoms in the hottest months of the year.
Pollen from grass and weeds; stings from ants, bees, and yellow jackets; and mold spores in warm, damp air are all common summer allergy triggers. What’s the best treatment for each and how can you enjoy the warm months of the season without suffering?
Pollen Is Still Here
Like springtime, the main culprit for summer allergies is pollen inhaled from grass and weeds, making activities like mowing the lawn and doing yard work become dreaded chores. Each area of the world has its own worst offenders for different types of grasses and weeds, but ragweed seems to be one of the most prevalent. You may live in the middle of a city and still be affected by this weed, as its pollen can travel in the wind for hundreds of miles.
Not sure if you’ve got a summer cold or seasonal allergies? Summer allergies cause hay fever or allergic rhinitis, and symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itchy nose and eyes, and dark circles under the eyes. As if your allergies weren’t bad enough, high pollution in the atmosphere on hot summer days when there’s not much wind can worsen your allergy symptoms.
The first line of defense against hay fever is made up of over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, nasal irrigation, and eye drops. When these aren’t doing the job, prescription medication or immunotherapy allergy shots may be needed.
You can lessen your risk for summer allergies by staying indoors on days with a high pollen count and heavy smog and keeping outdoor air outside by using quality air filters in your air conditioning unit. Additionally, after coming inside after spending time outdoors, wash your clothes and hair to keep pollen out of your home. When you can’t put off mowing your lawn any longer, wear a facemask when you do the dreaded chore.
Stings, Bites, and You
The combination of more time spent outside and the prevalence of bugs in the summer equals more bites and stings with the potential of allergic reactions. Some reactions are mild (itching, pain, and swelling) while other reactions may be life-threatening and cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, itching, dizziness, swelling of the throat, or nausea.
Mild allergic reactions can be treated with ice, pain medication, antihistamine, or topical steroids to relieve the itch. Anaphylactic reactions require emergency medical help and if available, a shot of epinephrine.
Don’t want to get stung? Stay away from bugs. When you’re outdoors, wear insect repellant and don’t fool insects into thinking you’re a flower by wearing bright colors, perfume, or fragrant lotions.
Since mold grows best in warm, damp conditions, it makes sense that the hot, humid months of summer cause mold to multiply both indoors and outdoors. In your house, mold may be found in wet basements and bathrooms. Outdoor mold grows on dead plants and leaves and on fallen logs. When mold spores enter the air and your respiratory system, you may have an allergic reaction similar to hay fever or asthmatic symptoms, and treatment is the same as well.
Prevention of mold allergies requires avoiding exposure to mold. Keep your home free of excess moisture by repairing leaks, running dehumidifiers, and using a vent in the bathroom. Install a HEPA filter for your air conditioning system, and when you must be outdoors doing yard work during high mold counts, wear a facemask.
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