Christina Ciaccio Md Msc
Christina Ciaccio, MD, MSc, provides compassionate care for children and adults with food and environmental allergies, allergic rhinitis, urticaria and angioedema, allergic rashes and asthma. She strongly believes in educating patients and their families, and involving them in the care process in a meaningful way.
You’re Totally Drained Of Energy
Feeling a little sluggish? Your cold is probably to blame. Dr. Stander says having decreased energy levels is a solid sign you have a bug. Even though allergies can make you feel lousy, they don’t affect your ability to take on your day, exactlybesides the breaks you take to cope with the itchy eyes and sneezing.
How To Treat Seasonal Allergies
In most cases, an over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant will do the trick. If you have severe allergies, however, your doctor may prescribe nasal steroid spray or allergy shots to dampen symptoms.
It’s always a good idea to try your best to avoid your triggers, but that doesn’t mean you have to hole up inside with a box of tissues. To get less exposure to your allergens:
- Keep your windows shut when your allergies are active
- Use an air purifier if you’re sensitive to indoor allergens
- Wear a dust mask while doing yard work
- Check your local weather network for pollen forecasts
- Take a shower and wash your hair at the end of each day to get rid of pollen that attached to your clothes, hair and skin
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What Causes Summer Allergies And How To Treat Them
- The most common cause of summer allergies is grass pollen from grass types like Timothy, Kentucky Blue, and Rye.
- You can also get summer allergies from mold, which is most prevalent from July to early fall.
- Some treatment options are limiting allergen exposure, taking medications like antihistamines, or getting allergy shots.
- This article was medically reviewed by Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist and laryngologist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Eye, Ear & Skull Base Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA
- This story is part of Insider’s guide on seasonal allergies.
Do you tend to get a runny nose and itchy eyes during the spring and summer? You’re not alone.
Seasonal allergies are usually worse in the spring, when plants release more of their pollen, but summer brings its own set of allergens, which can also affect many people.
Here’s what you should know if you’re experiencing summer allergies.
Allergies In The Middle Of The Summer Cmon
Many of us struggle with allergies but they often peak in spring and fall leaving summer a nice time of relief. So if your nose is running and youre sneezing like crazy in the middle of summer, what gives?
Well, the biggest summer allergy trigger is pollen. When pollen finds its way into the noses of sensitive airways, it triggers the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. The higher the pollen counts, the worse you may feel.
Trees are usually done pollinating by late spring, so if the leafy giants are your primary triggers then you are feeling pretty good at mid-summer. But if you are allergic to grasses and weeds, you may be feeling the full effect.
The Worst Summer Allergy Plants
- Sweet Vernal
- Timothy Hay
One thing to be aware of, especially in Utah, is that a potent and and common summer allergy trigger is on its way ragweed, which usually arrives in August. Ragweed can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. Even if it doesnt grow where you live, it can make you feel bad if youre allergic to it.
Summer air pollution can make allergy symptoms worse. One of the most common pollutants is ozone, which is created in the atmosphere by a combination of sunlight, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons from burning fuel. The stronger sunlight and calmer winds during summer can create clouds of ozone around some cities, like Salt Lake City and Logan during inversions.
When You Should See a Doctor
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Trees Grass And Other Weeds
While it may be the main allergen, ragweed isn’t the only fall culprit. Dr. Moss says other types of weeds, such as pigweed, marsh elder, and mugwort also plant their seeds through pollination in the fall months so they can reproduce in the following year.
Depending on where you live, trees and grass can also pollinate during fall. According to Dr. Moss, parts of the American west coast as well as the south experience some grass pollination in the fall. Sayantani Sindher, MD, clinical associate professor of allergy and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and an allergist with Stanford Healthcare, tells Health there are many trees that bloom in the fall months, as well. “For example, in California, elm pollen is one of the highest allergens right now,” she says.
What Are Summer Allergies
Summer allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, affects many people of all ages in the United States. Allergies in the summer are caused by a reaction to airborne particles such as pollen. The particles can cause nasal, throat, lung, and eye reactions. In spring and summer, pollen from trees and grass causes allergic reactions that can worsen when you are outdoors.
Critters That Sting Are More Active
Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, and other insects can cause allergic reactions when they sting. If you have a severe allergy, a run-in with one of them could lead to a life-threatening situation.
Insect bites usually cause mild symptoms, like itching and swelling around the area. Sometimes they lead to a severe allergic reaction, though. Your throat feels like itâs swelling shut, and your tongue might swell. You could feel dizzy, nauseated, or go into shock. This is an emergency, and you’ll need to get medical help right away.
Staying Indoors Is Not Always The Answer
For some it may seem easy enough to avoid this onslaught of airborne allergens by staying indoors after all as the weather cools we naturally do. Whilst to some extent this will protect you from pollen related allergies and the mould spores blowing around outside it may also bring you into contact with a range of other seasonal allergens. You see, unfortunately autumn is also peak time for indoor allergies for many of the reasons mentioned in our winter allergies article.
The prime factors causing indoor allergies to kick off are lack of ventilation and moisture. With everyone shutting the double glazing and turning the central heating on as the days get colder your house can become the perfect habitat for both mould and dust allergies. As an an additional whammy you may well be bringing some of those autumn mould spores by tramping in dead leaves and bringing in firewood a favourite hiding place for mould.
Dust mite allergy is probably the biggest single cause of allergies today. These tiny mites thrive in the same conditions as mould, i.e. wet and warm. This often describes early autumn, but can also describe the inside of your house. Of course regular cleaning with a HEPA vacuum can help reduce the dust and to some extent mould count, if this is not enough it might be worth considering investing in a dehumidifier with the aim of reducing the humidity to around 50%.
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What Can Cause Allergies In The Fall
Spring allergies, Dr. Moss says, are usually triggered by tree pollen. Someone with a tree pollen allergy might first experience symptoms in early spring, with ongoing symptoms through summer if they’re also allergic to grass pollen. Fall allergies, on the other hand, occur in response to specific allergens that start to show up around September, including the following:
Your Symptoms Only Show Up At Certain Times
If you have seasonal allergies, your symptoms should arise and go away around the same time each year. For most people, seasonal allergy symptoms begin in the spring and end in the fall. However, depending on your allergy triggers, you may experience allergic rhinitis in any of the four seasons. Here’s a rundown of plants that commonly cause seasonal allergies:
Spring: Tree pollen, particularly that from oak, elm, birch, cedar, willow, poplar, horse chestnut and alder trees.
Summer:Grasses, such as ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, Timothy grass, Bermuda grass and more.
Fall:Pollen from weeds is the main concern in the fall months. Many people are allergic to the pollen in ragweed, tumbleweed, pigweed, sagebrush, Russian thistle and more.
Winter: Most people find that their allergies go dormant during the winter months because most plants don’t pollinate during winter. If you still get watery eyes and a runny nose during cold weather, you might be allergic to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, mold or pet dander.
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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.
Preventing Summer Allergy And Asthma Symptoms
Here are some ways to help prevent your allergy and asthma symptoms from flaring:
- Pay attention to pollen counts for your area. You can watch your local weather forecasts or check at Pollen.com or the National Allergy Bureau to get your daily pollen counts.
- When pollen counts are high, stay indoors as much as you can. Pollen counts tend to be highest on warm, windy days and lowest on rainy days. If you must go outdoors during times when pollen counts are high, try to do it later in the day, as counts are usually highest early morning to midday.
- When you’re indoors or in the car, keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Even if it’s not hot out, turning on the A/C will keep pollen from blowing into your home or car through the window, especially if the air conditioning unit is equipped with a HEPA filter.
- Vacuum and dust your house’s flat surfaces frequently. Dust collects on flat surfaces and pollen often collects in dust so cleaning will keep the levels down indoors too. It may help to wear a mask while you clean.
- Don’t hang drying clothes outdoors. Clothes hanging outside to dry can collect pollen. Use a clothes dryer when pollen levels are high.
- If you must go outside during high pollen counts, wash the pollen off when you get back inside. Wash your hair to get rid of pollen and change your clothes. This might seem like overkill, but it can make a big difference in your symptoms.
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How Can I Treat My Allergies
There are many medications you can use:
help relieve stuffiness and dry up the mucus in your nose.
Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or oral tablets or drops can also help you feel better.
You can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, but talk to your doctor to make sure you get the right one. nasal sprays, for example, should only be used for 3 days. If you use them longer, you may actually get more congested. And if you have high blood pressure, some allergy drugs may not be right for you.
Rashes From Bites And Stings
Bites and stings usually cause pain and slight swelling, but they can cause a severe skin reaction in some people, particularly if they are allergic to stings. Sometimes the reaction is localised to swelling at the site of the bite or sting. This may be many centimetres wide but gradually goes away over a few days.
In some people the reaction to the bite or sting affects their whole body and can cause itchy skin anywhere on the body, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, throat, and upper airway, a fast heart rate and low blood pressure.
A severe allergic reaction affecting the whole body is called anaphylaxis and is a medical emergency.
Read more about bites and stings.
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You Let The Outside In
Mold spores and pollen can stick to everything, including hair, skin, and clothing, Dr. Shah says. You probably dont even realize youre doing it, but theres a good chance youre tracking irritants into the house. Minimize your risk with the following tips:
Wear a face mask when you rake leaves outdoors to avoid breathing in mold spores.
Throw your clothes into the washer and head straight for the shower when youre done biking or gardening,
Brush or wipe down pets after walks. Pollen can hitchhike into your homeand onto your couch, bed, or wherever else your dog likes to hang out.
Leave your shoes outside. Forget dirt and mudyou could be traipsing pollen and mold throughout the house. No outside area? Keep them in a separate closet.
Close the windows. Be sure to do this on windy or high pollen count days, and especially if you live near a busy road. Pollution is an irritant to those with respiratory allergies, says Dr. Leija. Cant bear having no fresh air? PollenTEC makes clean air window and door screens that filter dust, pollen, and exhaust soot so you can enjoy the fall breeze while it lasts.
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.
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What Are Some Common Summer Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms resulting from pollens and other allergens can mimic the symptoms of the common cold: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion.
Here are a few other ways to tell which one you have. Allergies dont typically include fever, while a cold can include a mild one, especially in kids. Allergies tend to last as long as youre exposed to the allergen, while colds tend to last no longer than one to two weeks.9 Some people may only experience symptoms during one season, while others may react to allergens throughout the year.10 Still not sure whether you have allergies or a cold? Take our simple quiz to find out.
Several factors impact the severity of an allergic reaction to pollen, including how much pollen a plant species emits into the air, how long your exposure is, and whether the pollen is more or less likely to cause an allergenic response. If youre allergic to multiple pollens or allergens, you may have more severe allergy symptoms.
Additionally, allergic symptoms will vary depending on which pollens and other allergens are common to your geographic area. Plants produce different levels of pollen depending on climate conditions such as temperature and rainfall. And while allergy seasons tend to remain predictable, unexpected weather changes can increase or decrease the usual pollen season, also affecting symptoms.11 Learn more about pollen allergies and common symptoms of an allergy to pollen here.
Can Summer Allergies Cause A Sore Throat
Common allergy symptoms are sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy or watery eyes. Allergies can cause a sore throat due to post-nasal drip, another typical symptom of pollen or mold allergies. When sinus congestion occurs, mucus may build up and drain down your throat, causing coughing and a sore, scratchy throat.
One of the main signs of COVID-19 is a fever, along with a cough or shortness of breath. Allergies will not cause a fever, making it one of the primary differences between allergies and COVID-19 patients should know. A cold may occur a few times a year, whereas allergies recur seasonally based on your triggers. Summer allergies are usually caused by pollen from grass, which reaches moderate to high levels throughout the summer months. Ragweed is a common fall allergen, but it also begins to bloom in late July and August. Mold spores and stinging insects are other allergy culprits during the summer. As you and your family spend more time outdoors, they may encounter more insects and environmental allergens, but you can reduce exposure to minimize symptoms.
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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.