Summer hasn’t officially arrived, but the heat has already been turned up in many parts of the United States. That means allergy and asthma symptoms can feel particularly out of control.
“People assume spring and fall are the worst times of year for those with allergies, but summer can torch your sense of well-being,” says allergist Mark Corbett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Summer allergies bring their own set of unique problems for those who suffer. But there are ways to cool down allergic reactions and asthma flares. Seeing your allergist is one way to keep yourself on track, and make sure you’re out enjoying the bright sunny days.”
Below are four tips from ACAAI to help you navigate warm-weather activities.
- Summer camp, anyone? – Kids and summer camp go together like “bug juice” and s’mores. But kids with allergies and asthma need an extra layer of protection from allergy and asthma triggers. If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, check into specialty camps that have provisions in place – including trained staff, on-site medical personnel and activities designed to keep anyone with an allergic condition safe. Camps for kids with asthma make sure kids’ medications are up-to-date and available if needed, and for kids with food allergies, many camps have chefs who are well-versed in how to make allergy-safe meals. Your allergist may have suggestions of camps in your area.
- Watch out for that…bee! – Most insect stings in the United States come from wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and bees. In southern areas of the US, red or black fire ants are a significant health hazard, and the number one cause of insect stings. It’s estimated that potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to insect venom occur in less than 1 percent of children and 3 percent of adults. Avoiding insect stings is the first line of defense, so:
- Don’t walk barefoot in the grass, where stinging insects look for food.
- 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, use epinephrine. Once epinephrine is used, call 911 and follow up in a hospital emergency room for further treatment and observation.
- Make your 4th of July smoke-free – Anything that causes smoke is a problem for people with asthma, so allergists recommend keeping your distance from both fireworks and campfires. If you can’t resist your local fireworks display, wear a mask with a NIOSH N95 filter to help keep smoke out of your lungs. You can also use the same masks you’ve been using to keep you safe from COVID-19. Keep your reliever inhaler with you in case of an asthma attack and consider a smoke-free concert instead.
- Your love affair with fresh fruit doesn’t have to end – Farmers’ markets are starting to pop up – along with an itchy mouth or scratchy throat. Why? If you have hay fever, you may also suffer from Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS), caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and some raw fruits and vegetables. Symptoms of PFAS include itchy mouth, scratchy throat, or swelling of the lips, mouth, or tongue. Treatment is not usually necessary because the symptoms often fade once the fresh fruit or raw vegetable is swallowed or removed from the mouth. The symptoms also typically go away once fruit is cooked. Another helpful tip: Convincing your body not to be allergic to the offending pollens anymore through treatments such as allergy shots can often lead to tolerance of those fresh fruits and vegetables.
This summer, an allergist can help you and your loved ones avoid allergy triggers. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the active life you want. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma, or to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, June 2022