It’s finally summer! With the change of season comes a new set of allergens that allergy sufferers need to be aware of in order to be comfortable through the best time of year. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of allergies during the summer.
Causes of Summer Allergies:
Pollen, Pollen, Pollen – While most trees have shed their springtime allergy-causing pollen by the end of spring, pollen is still an issue. Summer allergens are typically dominated by weed and grass pollen. Ragweed, bermuda grass, and blue grass are common examples here in the midwest.
Mold – While indoor molds can cause symptoms year round, the summer months can be particularly troublesome for mold allergy sufferers because increases in humidity can lead to optimal growing environments in damp basements and anywhere outdoors that organic material piles up. Grass clipping piles, dead leaves, gutters, and heavily irrigated gardens and lawns can all breed mold.
Insect stings – most venomous insects become active during the summer months and that is when stings are most likely to occur. Yellow jackets, wasps, bees, and hornets can only not cause painful stings, but allergic individuals can potentially have a life threatening anaphylactic reaction to them.
Seasonal food allergy – Fresh fruits and vegetables become more readily available during the summer months, increasing the chance of accidental exposure to an allergen. Berries, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and any number of other fruits and vegetables can potentially cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Potluck picnic meals can often contain unexpected hidden allergens, requiring constant vigilance for sufferers of specific food allergies.
Treating Summer Allergy Symptoms
Don’t worry! If summertime allergies are a problem, there are ways to stay comfortable and safe.
Local pollen counts are readily available on your local news or weather apps. You can dramatically reduce exposure to summer pollen by monitoring levels and taking precautions such as staying inside as much as possible, keeping doors and windows closed, running the air conditioner, and replacing home and auto air filters often. Use a vacuum often and utilize a HEPA filter to keep allergens from accumulating in your home. Consider wearing a N95-rated mask when mowing, doing yard work, or gardening to limit pollen exposure.
Be vigilant about stinging insects nesting in the vicinity of your home and take steps to remove them as soon as they’ve been noticed. Professional exterminators should be utilized if someone in the household has a known anaphylactic allergy to insect venom. Always wear shoes when walking on grass to avoid accidentally stepping on an insect.
Individuals with food allergies need to be especially careful consuming any food they did not purchase or prepare themselves.
Taking a daily, non-sedating antihistamine such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra can alleviate many of the symptoms of seasonal allergies such as scratchy eyes, hay fever, or sinus drainage, but if simple avoidance and antihistamine use doesn’t provide relief, then it may be time to discuss options with your doctor.
Allergy shots can provide long lasting relief to many seasonal allergy sufferers. Patients with an insect venom allergy should never be without their potentially life-saving Epipen during the summer months.
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