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Fruits, veggies, insects and chlorine among summer allergens
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. April 10, 2012 While summer means barbeques, festivals and other outdoor activities, the millions of Americans that suffer allergic reactions to grass pollens might want to run for cover. But according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), seasonal allergies can also affect those without pollen sensitivities due to unexpected summer staples such as certain fruits and vegetables, campfires or changes in the weather.
Although symptoms may not always be severe, summertime allergies and asthma are serious and, in some cases, deadly, said allergist James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee. However, these conditions shouldn t damper summer fun. Proper diagnosis and treatment involves more than just relieving symptoms, it can find the source of your suffering and stop it.
By planning ahead, seeing an allergist and knowing the causes of allergy and asthma, even those with the most sensitive noses and lungs can enjoy summer festivities.
Following are a few surprising summer allergy and asthma triggers, as well as some suggestions for coping with them, courtesy of ACAAI.
- Summer fruits and veggies. An otherwise healthy snack can mean an oral allergy syndrome for people whose lips begin to tingle after sinking their teeth into a juicy peach or melon, apple, celery and other fresh fruits and vegetables. People with common grass allergies can suffer from this condition, which is a cross-reaction between similar proteins in certain fruits and vegetables and the allergy-causing grass, tree or weed pollens. The simple solution is to avoid the offending food, or just put up with the annoying but short-lived (and seldom dangerous) reaction. If symptoms are bothersome, see an allergist to identify the offending pollen and develop a treatment plan to find relief.
- Changes in the weather. Be it stifling humidity or a refreshing cool breeze, sudden changes in the weather can trigger an asthma attack. Wind can spread pollen and stir up mold, affecting those who suffer from grass or tree pollen and mold allergies. Allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating allergic and asthmatic diseases, and can develop asthma action plans to ensure diseases are kept in check no matter the season or the temperature.
- Campfire smoke. Toasting marshmallows or sitting out at a bonfire is a lot less fun if it results in an asthma attack. Smoke is a common asthma trigger. Sit upwind of the smoke and avoid getting too close to help prevent an asthma flair-up.
- Stinging insects. As if the pain isn t bad enough, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergic reaction to the sting of yellow jackets, honey bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants. Coverup when gardening or working outdoors, avoid brightly colored clothing, forget the perfume and take caution when eating or drinking anything sweet, all of which attract stinging insects. Be especially careful with open soft drink cans. An allergist might advise carrying epinephrine for emergency relief in the event of being stung. See an allergist for skin testing to identify the offending insect and ask about. Allergy shots which can provide life-saving protection.
- Chlorine. Although not an allergen, the smell of chlorine from pools or hot tubs can be an irritant and cause flairs of either allergy-like eye and nose symptoms or asthma in some people.
Avoiding exposure to potential summertime allergy triggers and working with an allergist to find relief and determine the most effective treatments can help seasonal allergy sufferers lead a normal, healthy life.Visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org to learn more about summer allergies and to find an allergist.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.