Things to Know About Summer Allergies

Summer allergies are usually an extension of the terrible allergies people experience during spring.  The most common allergy trigger in the summer is pollen, just as in the spring.  When the heat and humidity of the summer accompany a high pollen count, summer allergies become intolerable.

Pollens are tiny granules that are spawned into the air by male grasses, trees, and weeds.  In people with allergies, these pollens cause the immune system to become overactive, releasing antibodies into the system.  Antibodies are released by the immune system to attack the pollen, or other allergens, which then causes the release of histamines into the bloodstream.  Histamines are what causes the runny nose and itchy eyes that are associated with allergies.

There are many sources available which report the pollen count, including many weather services.  When the pollen count is high, so is the misery for summer allergies.  The pollen count is the grains of pollen in each cubic meter of air.  Trees generally pollinate during the spring and are done by late spring.  Grasses and weeds pollinate later, including throughout the summer.

Ragweed is the most common summer allergen, usually pollinating in August.  Other common summer allergens are sagebrush, pigweed, timothy, Bermuda, and blue grasses.  Once airborne, pollen can travel for miles, so even if the allergen doesn’t grow in your area, the pollen can be in the air.  Pollution, that tends to linger in the air during the summer, can also exacerbate allergies.

Allergy symptoms during the summer are not any different than allergy symptoms during other times of the year.  Histamines cause runny nose, watery and itching eyes, sneezing, and dark circles under the eyes.  Oral allergy syndrome can be caused by ragweed.  When bananas, cucumber, or melons are eaten, the allergy sufferer develops an itchy and swollen throat.  Asthma attacks can also be triggered by airborne allergens.

Allergy tests will look for the specific allergen so that treatment and avoidance can be accurate.  Allergy specialists normally do skin tests where a small sample of the allergen is inserted just under the skin.  Many tests are done at the same time and any allergen will cause a red bump, or hive, to form.

Treatment for summer allergies is no different than for treatment of spring allergies.  Over the counter antihistamines can be useful in relieving runny noses, sneezing, and itching.  There are many types of decongestants which can help to clear mucus from the throat and nose.  The downside of antihistamines and even decongestants, is that they can cause drowsiness.

Prescription medication is also available for allergies and may be more effective and tolerable than over the counter medications.  Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation in the nasal cavities.  Medications containing leukotriene receptor antagonists, such as Singulair, help to block some the chemicals involved in the allergic reaction chain of events.  Many people opt for allergy shots.  Shots are the most inconvenient therapy, but when they work, they are the most effective and long lasting treatment.  Allergy shots expose the allergic person to tiny amounts of allergens over a period of time which allows the patient to build up a tolerance to the allergen.

Summer allergies are impossible to avoid, but besides medication, there are a few things that will help alleviate some of your suffering.  When the pollen count is very high, try to stay indoors.  The pollen count generally peaks in the morning hours.  Use an air purifier in your home and keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.  Having a clean air filter in your air conditioner will help clean out allergens that do enter your home.

To ensure that you will be able to enjoy your summer vacation, choose a destination that is less likely to have fewer allergens.  A beach is a good place to go if you are allergic to ragweed, for example.  Be sure to keep up on any allergy shots that you are taking and make sure that you pack your allergy medications to take with you.




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