Top 5 Summer Allergy Triggers
For allergy sufferers, summertime brings more than just fun and sun.
May 30, 2012& #151 — intro: Summer is unofficially on, and that means three months full of sun, heat — and allergy triggers.
The fully bloomed trees and green grass may be nice to look at, but the pollen they harbor can bring allergy sufferers misery during the spring and summer months.
But it’s not just that ubiquitous powdery substance that can trigger sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes during the hotter months. Experts say the allergy triggers on the following pages can be more common during the summer.
quicklist: 1category: Summer Allergy Triggerstitle: Pollenurl: text: No matter what the season, pollen is in the air, ready to set off allergy attacks.
“Pollens will vary from region to region, but they follow a sequential pattern everywhere,” said Dr. Harold Nelson, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. “It’s tree pollen mostly in the spring before the leaves come out. In late spring it’s grass pollen, and starting usually in late July or August it’s weed pollen. And the most important one is ragweed.”
“There’s a global expansion of pollen. There’s more of it and it’s more powerful,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Allergy experts say of the summer allergens, pollen is the most common and affects the most people. While it’s not possible to avoid pollen entirely, Bassett offered a number of tips for minimizing its effects.
Summer Fruits And Veggies
Some people are sensitive not only to pollens but also to certain foods with similar proteins as those found in common allergens, such as grasses and weeds. If you experience a short-term sensation of tingling lips, swelling of the mouth, or a scratchy throat when you eat a raw summer fruit or vegetable, you may have this type of allergy known as Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome, or Oral Allergy Syndrome. If youre concerned about your symptoms or experience food allergies that extend beyond your mouth, contact your healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of a more serious food allergy.6
What Is A Summer Cold
There are many hundred strains of rhinovirus that are responsible for causing the common cold. Catching a specific strain of rhinovirus virus will help you produce immunity to that one strain. However, people still catch colds several times in a year and throughout their lifetime due to infection with other viral strains.
Don’t Miss: Robitussin Cough Suppressant And Expectorant
Spring Allergies 2021 And Covid
Youre going to hear this a lot: I cant tell if this is allergies or COVID. Go ahead and get ready for it. And if you dont have a thermometer, now is a good time to get one. Coughing, sore throats and feeling tired can be symptoms of both allergies and COVID-19. But typically seasonal allergies arent associated with a fever. So if youre running a fever, your issue is likely not from allergies.
But rest assured: This doesnt mean you have COVID-19. You can contact your doctor or urgent care facility to be sure. Of course, following CDC guidelines is always a good idea when it comes to preventing and dealing with COVID-19.
The good news: Wearing masks will likely translate to less allergy symptoms for many people. If you wear a mask outdoors, youll protect your nose and mouth from airborne particles. Be sure to wash or clean your mask, or if you use disposable masks, change them more frequently during allergy season.
You Can Still Survive Summer Even In The Midst Of These Symptoms Here Are A Few Tips To Help Minim
Consult with your physician to receive the proper testing so you know exactly what causes your summer allergies.
Keep your doors and windows closed when the pollen and mold counts are high.
Change your air-conditioner filters. Changing the filters will help prevent the circulation of allergens that may have accumulated over time.
Frequently clean bed sheets. Bed sheets can be a hotspot for allergens. Keeping them clean can help reduce reactions to seasonal allergies.4
Though summer allergies are common, they are also diagnosable and treatable so you dont have to lose your summer to another symptom.
Don’t Miss: Does Twix Contain Peanuts
Symptoms Of Summer Allergies And Asthma
Common symptoms of summer allergies include:
Kids with asthma and allergies may have what is known as the “allergic salute.” That’s where the nose tilts upward because of constant rubbing due to itching. They may also sport allergic shiners, which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion.
These are all just the typical symptoms of allergy-induced asthma. Nothing is different in the summer, except that if you are allergic to summer allergens, your symptoms may increase.
In those for whom grass or weeds are a trigger, asthma that may be “quiet” at other times of year and then flare as things start to green and grow. Though if you have other triggers, your summer allergy-induced asthma may turn into fall, winter, or spring allergy-induced asthma as the seasons roll on and you are exposed to other substances your immune system doesn’t like.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Reasons For Developing Allergies Later In Life Not Always Clear
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I didnt have allergies when I was younger. But now in my 40s, I seem to get allergy symptoms during the spring and summer. Is it possible to develop allergies as an adult? Should I get tested? If so, what do allergy tests involve?
ANSWER: You can develop allergies later in life, and there is definitely value in getting tested to see if your symptoms are due to allergies. If they are, the test results will give you information about what youre allergic to and help guide you as you decide on treatment. Allergy tests usually involve a skin test, a blood test or both.
Allergy development typically has two phases. During the first phase, called sensitization, you come in contact with a harmless substance, and your body mistakenly starts making allergic antibodies, called IgE antibodies, to fight that substance. Those antibodies dont do anything until you are exposed to the substance, or allergen, again. At that time, the second phase starts. The allergen binds to the IgE antibodies. That sets off a cascade of immune reactions in your body, such as itchy or watery eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing, among others.
If, as in your situation, allergy symptoms develop but you arent sure what you might be allergic to, or even if your symptoms really are allergies, it is worthwhile to go through allergy testing. The tests can show what you are sensitive to, and knowing that can go a long way to customizing treatment to your specific situation.
Read Also: Cetirizine For Allergies
What Are Winter Allergies
Many people think of allergies as seasonal, caused by grass, tree and ragweed pollen. Truth is, seasonal allergies can occur nearly year-round as trees release pollen in the spring, grasses in the summertime, and weeds go to work in the fall. And if you live in a warm climate, you might experience allergies in winter because some plants may not go dormant. For example, people who live in the Southwestern United States Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Missouri may experience whats called cedar fever if exposed to the Ashe Juniper tree during winter months.
If tree, grass and weed exposure trigger allergies in spring, summer and fall, then what could trigger allergy symptoms in wintertime? Winter allergies are less likely to be caused by outdoor triggers instead, they are triggered by exposure to allergens inside your home or office.
Keep Indoor Air Clean
Rather than keeping windows open to cool down your home or car, use the air conditioning to limit the amount of pollen that gets indoors. Keep your home clean by vacuuming often and running a HEPA air filter to catch any allergens. If youre not filtering your air, you may have poorer air quality inside your home than outside.13
Don’t Miss: Claritind
What Is The Treatment For Pollen Allergy
Certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines may help reduce pollen allergy symptoms.
- Antihistamines come in pill, liquid or nasal spray form. They can relieve sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They also reduce a runny nose and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
- are available as pills, liquids, nasal sprays or drops. They help shrink the lining of the nasal passages and relieve nasal stuffiness. Use decongestant nose drops and sprays only on the short-term.
- Nasal corticosteroids are a type of nasal spray. They reduce inflammation in the nose and block allergic reactions. They are the most effective medicine type for allergic rhinitis because they can reduce all symptoms, including nasal congestion. Nasal corticosteroids have few side effects.
- Leukotriene receptor antagonists block the action of important chemical messengers that are involved in allergic reactions.
- Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, including histamine and leukotrienes. This medicine has few side effects, but you must take it four times a day.
Many people with pollen allergy do not get complete relief from medications. This means they may be candidates for immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions. It can change the course of allergic disease by modifying the bodys immune response to allergens.
Is It A Summer Cold Or Allergies
You might expect to have a scratchy throat and a runny nose in the dead of winter, but on a beautiful summers day, these symptoms seem out of place . It is possible to experience the common cold during the warm-weather months, but the symptoms may actually be a sign that you have allergies, not a cold. How can you tell the difference when youre feeling lousy?
Although colds and allergies have some overlapping symptoms, there are reliable ways to tell them apart, including the presence or absence of certain symptoms and the duration of your discomfort, says Parneet Grewal, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group.
Summer colds can be different
Most people who get colds in the winter are infected by common viruses known as rhinoviruses, which are most active during the chillier months. Youre less likely to be exposed to, or become ill from, rhinoviruses when its warm out.
Instead, a different type of virus causes colds more often during the warmer months: Enteroviruses. Theyre less common than rhinoviruses overall, but theyre more prevalent during the summer.
Rhinoviruses, which typically strike during the winter, reside in the upper respiratory system. Enteroviruses, which typically strike during the summer, inhabit the gastrointestinal system. Although both types of viruses can cause cold symptoms like coughing, sneezing, sore throat and runny nose, enteroviruses may also cause nausea, vomiting or rashes.
Recommended Reading: Dr Morosky Allergy
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 . 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 Premier Allergist. 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 Premier Allergist at 1-800-778-9923 or book online.
Workout But Move It Indoors
Regular exercise helps decrease allergy symptomsitchy eyes, runny nose, fullness in the ears, pressure in the sinuses and overall fatigueby improving blood flow in the body, which promotes the removal of allergens. A study from Thailand found that after allergy sufferers ran for 30 minutes, their sneezing, runny nose, and nasal itching and congestion all decreased by more than 70 percent. While its tempting to exercise outdoors in the sunshine this summer, think about your allergies first. Trattner recommends working out indoors during allergy season to lower your exposure to pollen in the air. Check out these great at-home workouts that dont require any special equipment.
Read Also: Robitussin Allergy & Cough
You Probably Don’t Have These Symptoms
Remember, some of the symptoms in the first two sections may also be symptoms of COVID-19, so if you feel under the weather, you should get tested for COVID-19 to be sure. A runny nose and sneezing, in particular, are common allergy symptoms and common symptoms of COVID-19.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance you have a cold, COVID-19 or another virus:
- Aches and pains throughout your body
- Severe headache
- Sore throat
If you know you’re allergic to pollen, you can try an app like Zyrtec AllergyCast to check the pollen counts and see if it’s a good idea to go outside.
Whats The Difference Between Having Allergies And Getting Sick
The big distinction between having allergies and being sick is that you canât actually give anyone your allergies â but you can give them your cold. âAllergies are not contagious and, while annoying, are usually harmless,â Dr. Jain says. âHowever, most viruses and bacteria illnesses are contagious.â
To try and detect a difference, pay attention to certain key symptoms. âIf you have a fever or swollen lymph nodes, it is likely an infection,â says Dr. Tania Elliott, M.D., a clinical instructor of medicine and immunology at NYU Langone. Itâs also about when symptoms start. âAllergies come the same time every year and are worse when you are exposed to an allergen ,â she explains. Youâll want to pay attention to how long your symptoms last, too. Allergies will stick around for a few months, Dr. Elliott says, while upper respiratory infections typically wonât stick around longer than a week or two.
If you have itchy or watery eyes, clear mucus, a runny nose for more than a week, and your symptoms are consistent each day, you’re likely dealing with allergies, which can usually be relieved with over-the-counter allergy medications. Allergy symptoms generally stay the same, whereas cold symptoms tend to intensify and peak before they ultimately subside.
You May Like: Claratin Kids
When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you notice that your asthma and allergy symptoms crop upor worsenduring the days of summer, there’s a good chance that you have summer allergy-induced asthma. To find out for sure, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
Your practitioner may decide to refer you to an allergist. They can do formal allergy testing to find out exactly what you may be allergic to.
The good news is there’s no reason why you should have to put up with summer allergies and asthma symptoms. There are easy steps you can take to keep your symptoms at bay. A combination of preventive actions and medication is usually all it takes.
Should I Take Or Give My Child Over
The over-the-counter allergy medications are both safe and effective. Steroid nose sprays, such as Flonase, Rhinocort and Nasocort, may help your nose and eye symptoms even if you dont have allergies. 24-hour antihistamines, such as Claritin, Clarinex, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Xyzal, will also help but typically only if you have allergies. It is safe and considered effective to use a steroid nose spray and 24-hour antihistamine together.
Recommended Reading: Robitussin Er
Steer Clear Of Irritants
The mucous membrane that lines the nostrils and sinuses can be damaged by various irritants, including automobile exhaust, smog, mold spores, and smoke from a campfire or cigarettes. So, do what you can to limit your exposure.
âSmoke is the single worst thing for the sinus sufferer,â says Denver-based sinus specialist Robert S. Ivker, DO, author of Sinus Survival. âIt damages the delicate cilia and the mucous membrane itself.â
Another major offender is the chlorine in swimming pools — particularly indoor pools with limited ventilation. If you spend lots of time in the pool each summer, a nose clip can offer some protection. And, be aware that diving can force water into your nostrils and sinuses.
Unchlorinated water, like that found in unpolluted lakes and rivers and in the ocean, poses little threat to your sinuses.
What Allergy Treatments Are Available
Treatments can help a great deal, says Dr. Hsu. Allergy treatment has changed over the past 10 years, with a number of first-line medications now available over the counter, she says. So, while we have lots of consultations with patients, we dont necessarily send a prescription to the pharmacy. We often advise people on what to buybut we want to be very specific, because there are certainly a lot of over-the-counter medications that we would not recommend as first-line treatments.
For instance, she might start with antihistamines for itching and runny nose, steroid nasal sprays for nasal passage congestion, and antihistamine eye drops for ocular symptoms. If a patient is still uncomfortable, she might recommend a decongestant, but not for daily use, since its a medication patients can become overly reliant on. Likewise, some patients should avoid antihistamines that are excessively sedating, she says.
The problem is that some people think theyll just grin and bear it. But… you can take steps to minimize those weeks of misery.Yale Medicine pediatric allergist Stephanie Leeds, MD
Its helpful when patients have a skin or blood test to find out exactly what they are allergic to. If you are really symptomatic, its helpful to get tested at least once. I dont think you need to be re-tested year after year, but at some point, establishing the specific triggers can be helpful, because then you can take steps to avoid exposure, Dr. Leeds says.
Also Check: Claritin Indoor & Outdoor Allergies