Charlotte, NC – If you or someone you love suffers from seasonal allergies, you might think there’s no need to worry about summertime sneezing, runny noses, or eye irritation. But you’d be wrong. Summer can unfortunately bring as many symptoms to allergy sufferers as spring and fall, leaving your image of running slow motion through a field of green, well, pretty much in the dirt.
The most common allergy triggers during the summer months are grass pollens. In addition, summer brings ragweed, which usually arrives in August, and mold spores, which can irritate those with allergies.
So how can someone with allergies still have summer fun? Following are tips for preventing the “summertime blues” caused by allergy triggers:
You love fresh fruit, but does it love you? – Summer means the bounty of farmers markets. If you suffer from hay fever and have had an itchy mouth or scratchy throat after eating certain raw fruits or vegetables, you may have oral allergy syndrome. Oral allergy syndrome is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and some raw fruits and vegetables. Symptoms of oral allergy syndrome include itchy mouth, scratchy throat, or swelling of the lips, mouth or tongue. Because the symptoms often subside quickly once the fresh fruit or raw vegetable is swallowed or removed from the mouth, treatment is not usually necessary. Once fruit is cooked, the symptoms typically go away as well.
Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow…bees – The majority of insect stings in the United States come from wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bees. In southern portions of the US, the red or black imported fire ant has become a significant health hazard, and may be the number one agent of insect stings. It’s estimated that potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to insect venom occur in 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent of children and 3 percent of adults. Avoidance of insect stings is the first line of defense, so:
• Don’t walk barefoot in the grass, where stinging insects forage.
• Don’t drink from open soft drink cans as stinging insects are attracted to them.
• Keep food covered when eating outdoors.
• Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, shoes and work gloves when working outdoors.
If symptoms of a severe allergic reaction occur from an insect sting, epinephrine should be injected. Once epinephrine is used, 911 should be called and follow up in a hospital emergency room for further treatment and observation.
No hazy, lazy days of summer for you – Warm weather means moving workouts outside. But for those with seasonal allergies, exercising outdoors can be bothersome. Some recommendations for outdoor exercise include:
• Exercise outdoors when pollen counts are at their lowest – pre-dawn or in the late afternoon or evening.
• Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothing after exercise. Pollen can stick to your hair, clothing and shoes, causing you to bring pollen indoors.
• Avoid running through the grass. This can stir pollen into the air you breathe.
• Keep an eye on the weather. Wind and rain can affect pollen counts.
• Listen to your body. Asthma can be a symptom of an allergy. If you are having trouble breathing, you should see your allergist.
If you have symptoms keeping you from summer fun, make an appointment with an allergist for proper testing. A board-certified allergist can help identify and treat your allergic symptoms.