Common Summertime Allergy Triggers
Summer is a season when many common allergens become active and different triggers can cause allergic reactions. Below, you will find some kind of an informational guide to allergies occurring during summer.
Percentage of the time people spend outdoors throughout the year is highest in summer. Picnics at the beach, camping, backyard barbeques – all these typical summer activities come with the risk of outdoor allergies that may ruin the whole summer for some people. Summertime allergies may be triggered by various allergens such as summer pollens, stinging and biting insects, hidden food ingredients, or smoke from campfires and barbeques.
Grass Pollen as a Summer Allergy Trigger
In summer, pollen allergies are most commonly caused by grass pollen whose concentration in the air is the highest, compared to other pollens. The symptoms of grass pollen allergy may include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and asthma attacks. Physical contact with grass may also cause hives and itching in some people.
In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid grass pollen exposure or even direct contacts with grass during summertime season. However, there are some tips that help to keep allergy symptoms to a minimum. Thus, it is recommended to use various allergy and asthma medications in order to reduce the symptoms. Another measure is to wear a mask, if the air is full of grass pollen, e.g. after mowing the lawn. Moreover, allergy symptoms like itching can normally be prevented, if you take antihistamine 1-2 hours prior to the grass exposure.
Hidden Allergenic Ingredients in Picnic Foods
Outdoor picnics and barbeques are among the most popular summer activities. However, since food at picnics is often brought by many different people, it can be dangerous and cause an allergic reaction in people prone to food allergies, as it may contain various hidden ingredients. People with food allergies can be exposed to different allergy triggers, including peanut and other nuts, egg, milk, or seafood.
Allergic reactions to food mainly happen right after accidentally eating a specific food. It is strongly recommended for people with food allergies to always be prepared to treat an allergic reaction.
Allergies to Smoke
We are exposed to smoke from various sources more frequently during summer, too, and in most people, smoke exposure leads to non-allergic irritation of the eyes, nose and lungs. However, there are also people who are allergic to smoke.
Exposure to the smoke can cause an allergic reaction, in case you are allergic to the pollen of the tree that was used to produce the wood.
It is important for people with asthma and sensitive eyes and nose to avoid direct exposure to the smoke from campfires and barbeques. In addition, it is advised to always keep asthma rescue medications available, to minimize risks.
Stinging and Biting Insects Causing Allergic Reactions
Summertime is a period when the activity of insects is significantly increased. Stinging insects like bees, wasps and yellow-jackets, as well as biting insects such as mosquitoes can present a real danger to certain people. In most cases, insect bites and stings cause localized pain, itching and swelling. But in some people the symptoms might be more severe: they may experience hives, trouble breathing and even life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis.
Insect allergies are a type of allergies that can be cured, so if you are suffering from such an allergy, you need to discuss the treatment options with your allergist.
The most effective way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid contacts with stinging and biting insects as much as possible. Precautionary measures considering insect allergies include:
- Avoiding brightly coloured clothing, as well as flowery prints;
- Avoiding perfumes and other scented products that might be attractive for stinging insects;
- Wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-toed shoes and sock, when spending time outdoors;
- Checking food and drinks before eating or drinking outdoors, as many stinging insects are attracted to sugary treats;
- Using mosquito repellents, such as sprays and lotions applied to the skin or citronella candles releasing a mosquito-repelling scent.