Print Print this Page

How To Survive Summer Allergies

Most people get excited as summer approaches but for those of us with allergies, getting into the seasonal spirit can be a bit more of a challenge. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recently highlighted the symptoms which summer allergy sufferers have to endure – runny nose, red eyes, nasal swelling and dark under-eyes are just a few. These symptoms frequently affect those who experience allergies all year round but can also strike people who are allergy free the rest of the year. With allergy experts predicting that sufferers across the United States are facing a ‘tough year’ it might seem that for a large section of the population the best advice would be to stay indoors! Thankfully this is far from necessary. By taking some simple steps most summer related allergies can be successfully dealt with or at least reduced in intensity. Here we explore some of the most common allergy issues associated with the summer months.

Boosting summer breathability

One of the most common summer allergies is hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. A range of inhalant allergens can cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sore throat but the most popular culprit is pollen. This is frequently transmitted via grasses and weeds, different types of which are found spread right across the country. Ragweed is a particular problem plant as it can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. People with asthma and/or eczema are more likely to develop hay fever. The collective term for experiencing all three conditions is the atopic triad. The term atopy means that the person’s body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E in response to regular allergens like dust mites or in this case pollen.

Medication is available to treat hay fever including tablets and nasal sprays which can both ease the troublesome symptoms. Practical measures can also help such as avoiding drying clothes outside, showering after being outdoors and applying petroleum jelly around the inside of the nose to prevent spores and pollen from reaching the lining of the nose.

Taking the sting out of summer

Another frequent allergy issue is reaction to stings from bees, wasps, mosquitoes and other seasonal insects. Allergy and Asthma Care New York medical director Dr. Clifford Bassett recently warned that the threat posed by these pesky ticks is rising as climate change alters the weather conditions making summers hotter and wetter. Bug bites are understandably irritating but for some people the implications can be much more serious. Some mosquitoes carry dangerous viruses such as Chikungunya and West Nile which can prove life threatening. Ticks can also carry the debilitating Lyme disease which thankfully can be treated with antibiotics if caught early. Reduce the likelihood of attracting these bugs by regularly applying insect repellent. DEET based formulas are popular but studies have shown natural plant like chemicals can be equally effective. If venturing into wooded areas wear light colored clothing, long pants and long sleeved tops. When sitting outside plug in a fan – this may sound odd but the fan blowing on you will make it more difficult for the insects to safely land on your skin.

Enjoying the taste of summer

Food allergies represent a potentially life threatening problem for sufferers all year round but summer can pose a particular challenge. Making a safe journey as part of a vacation and at the same time maintaining an allergy free zone can present significant travel issues for people whose condition is a matter of life and death. Having reached the destination, ensuring the accommodation selected also represents a safe environment can also add to the stress experienced. It may seem like a big task but careful planning and preparation can help ensure sufferers have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Always check that medication is packed close at hand. Make yourself familiar with any medical kit not regularly used – such as an epipen – and always carry two devices in case the first one malfunctions. Depending on the mode of transport being used and the operator’s policy, medical documentation may be required to permit the carrying of such devices. Awareness and communication is key. Notify the travel company well in advance about the specifics of your condition and seek their co-operation and assistance. Most companies nowadays have procedures in place to address these issues and are only too willing to help. Project Allergy has compiled a resource page which provides links to popular airline and hotel brands and their associated allergy policies.

Always wear an identifiable medic alert bracelet or necklace so that it is clear what specific allergies apply, wherever you are. If you are travelling abroad then translation cards in the relevant language can be a real aid – ensuring that should treatment be required local health professionals can be fully informed about the specific allergies in play.

Contributing Editor
Laura Fensome