Enjoy Those Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer
… without the sneezy, wheezy symptoms of allergies & asthma
Summer is here, and people are enjoying fun activities outdoors. Allergy and asthma fighters need to keep in mind that along with the warm weather comes exposure to allergens, which could trigger a potentially harmful attack. This is why maintaining control over allergies & asthma is a must.
Enjoy the Weather
Being outdoors is a big part of summer; however, people with asthma need to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come along with it. Ozone alerts, forest fire smoke, and windblown tree and plant pollen can trigger attacks. Even people with mild asthma can experience asthma attacks severe enough to send them to the emergency room.
To best enjoy the summer weather, steer clear of your summer asthma triggers. Stay indoors on excessively hot days. If possible, use air conditioning instead of having windows opened. Avoid playing in fields with tall grass and weeds. Air out tents, tree houses, and other confined places where mold could be. Sit far away from smoke created by campfires; smoke irritates the lungs. Shower and wash your hair every night before going to bed, and leave shoes outside after playing to avoid tracking pollen indoors.
Bee-ware of Insects
Summer is the time of year when people are stung by bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Common reactions to most stinging insects are temporary redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the sting. But for people allergic to stinging insects, their immune systems will overreact to the venom injected by the insects, resulting in severe reaction.
Being outdoors is a big part of summer; however, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come along with it.
To avoid stinging insects, stay away from areas that the insects inhabit. This includes hives, nests, and anthills. Hire a trained exterminator to destroy any hives and nests around your home. Keep all food covered until eaten. Avoid wearing bright colored clothing and heavy, sweet-scented perfume when outdoors. Move slowly when encountered by a flying insect; do not swat them.
Summer is also a great time to be outside swimming, biking, playing ball, or running, even for people with exercised-induced asthma. Steps can be taken prior to, during, and after activities to control your asthma this summer. Always warm up before your workout, and always cool down afterward. Avoid exercising outside on excessively hot days. Also, try not to exercise outside when pollen counts are high; this could aggravate your asthma. Check out the National Allergy Bureau (AAAAI.org/nab) for pollen counts in your area. Take breaks frequently, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Eating Away from Home
Summer break is a great time to go for a picnic or for eating at a restaurant. It is very important for people with food allergies to remember that knowing what they are putting into their mouths is still important. Eating the wrong food could cause an anaphylactic attack. When eating away from home, don’t be afraid to ask what something is made of; knowing the ingredients could help avoid an attack. If your child is out with a friend, always inform the friends’ parents of any food allergies. Make sure the table you are eating at is clean; the slightest contamination could trigger an attack. Always carry an EpiPen, and make sure someone around you knows how to administer it in case you are unable to.
Summer break is also a time for traveling. If you have allergies & asthma, you know they’re always with you, even when you travel. To help ensure that your vacation is fun, relaxing, and free from allergic or asthmatic attacks, it is best to be prepared for the road ahead. If you have active allergy symptoms or unstable asthma, have a pre-trip physical. Pack all medications you will need on your trip. Avoid being around smokers, or ask that they refrain from smoking in the car or around you. If possible, raise windows and use the air conditioning. Clean out the car before going on trip; dust mites and mold could be in the carpet or seats.
If you cross several time zones, allow for time differences so that medication dosage schedules will remain constant. When staying in a hotel that doesn’t have an allergy-proof room, make sure your room is located in a dry, sunny area away from the pool. If traveling abroad, try to find a physician in your destination area who can treat you in case of emergency.
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, May/June 2009.