With spring near it’s end and summer just around the corner, spring allergy sufferers rejoice…but not so fast! The summer season brings with it a whole new slew of allergy offenders. “Summer allergies can cause severe symptoms for some sufferers and can be just as bad as the spring and fall seasons,” said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Let’s look at some of the most common summer allergy offenders:
For those who are allergic to grass, it is most likely an allergy to grass pollen and not the actual leaves of grass. An allergy to grass pollen is more formally referred to as rhinitis. During the summer months, the grass pollenates, and is then picked up into the air. Warm, dry, and windy days are often when pollen counts tend to be the highest. Grass allergy symptoms present themselves in a multitude of ways: runny nose, sneezing, congestion, itchy and watery eyes and asthma are the most common. Skin rashes such as hives and welts may be present in people with more severe allergies or when in direct contact with the grasses. Staying indoors on high pollen count days, showering and changing clothes after outside activities as well as keeping doors and windows shut are all ways you can avoid grass pollen.
Summertime is when insect stings are at their peak. The warm weather welcomes insects such as bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets. Most of us steer clear of these buzzing creatures to avoid a painful sting, while others are avoiding what could be a life-threatening anaphylactic allergic reaction. Some common symptoms that come along with an insect sting allergy are: pain, swelling, redness, itching and itching confined to the sting site. Those who suffer from a severe reaction or anaphylaxis can experience some of the aforementioned symptoms as well as GI upsets, tongue or throat swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness or unconsciousness. Severe reactions can occur within minutes after the sting and require immediate medical attention. After an initial allergic reaction to an insect sting, there is a 65% chance of a similar or worse reaction to occur if stung again. Taking certain precautionary measures can lessen your chances of getting stung. Avoid walking barefoot outside and wearing sweet smelling colognes, perfumes, and lotions. Also, avoid exposed food at picnics and open trash cans as these critters love to dwell there.
There are many types of molds that grow year-round, but from late summer into fall, certain outdoor mold types are at their peak. Thriving off of humid environments, outdoor mold spores make their way through the air just as pollen does. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, (ACAAI) mold spores are ubiquitous and commonly outnumber pollen grains in the air even when the pollen count is at its highest. Mold allergy symptoms are like those of pollen allergy symptoms: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes. To reduce your exposure to outside molds, keep doors and windows closed and remain indoors on days with high mold counts.
Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables
Melons, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots are just some of the fresh produce we love to enjoy during the summer months. Unfortunately, for some allergy sufferers, these fruits contain similar proteins to some grass and tree pollen they are allergic to, causing the body to react the same way it would to the pollen. This condition is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). “The symptoms of oral allergy syndrome and food allergy can be very similar and difficult to differentiate. The risk of life-threatening or serious reactions is very different in these two conditions. It is important to discuss your symptoms with your allergist to be properly diagnosed and develop an appropriate treatment plan,” said Dr. Ogechukwu Ndum, a practicing allergist at The Allergy and Asthma Center. Common symptoms of OAS include: itching or burning of the lips, mouth, and throat and in some cases, hives. To best avoid having a reaction, try opting for a cooked version of the fruit or vegetable which will degrade the protein causing the allergy.
To schedule an appointment with one of our allergists, call The Allergy & Asthma Center at 1-800-778-9923 or book online.