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Keep Achoos out of Your Red, White and Blue(s) Celebrations

Keep Achoos out of Your Red, White and Blue(s) Celebrations

Make your Independence Day holidays wheeze- and sneeze-free

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 12, 2024) – When you think about the 4th of July – fireworks, barbecues and parades probably come to mind. What you don’t want to be thinking about are your (or your child’s) allergy and asthma flares.

“People with allergies and asthma may have a few extra challenges when it comes to 4th of July celebrations,” says allergist Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “But if you prepare for festivities in advance, there’s no reason you and your kids can’t have a fantastic holiday, filled with lots of good food and fun activities.”

Following are six tips from ACAAI to keep in mind as you prepare for the holiday:

  1. Know Your Triggers – Understanding what triggers your allergies or asthma is crucial. Common outdoor allergens during this time of year include pollen, grass, and mold. Additionally, smoke from fireworks and barbecues can worsen asthma symptoms. Stay informed about local pollen counts and air quality forecasts, which can help you plan your day and avoid high-risk times and areas.
  2. Choose Wisely – You’ll want to pick activities and locations that minimize exposure to allergens and irritants. For instance, opt for picnics in areas where the grass is well-maintained and pollen levels are lower. Communicating your needs with family and friends can help you breathe easier.
  3. Manage Your Meds – Confirm you have an adequate supply of your medications, including inhalers, antihistamines, and any other prescribed treatments. Always carry them with you, especially if you’re attending outdoor events. If you suffer from food or insect allergies, carry your epinephrine auto-injector plus a spare, and make sure you know how to use them.
  4. Make it Safe for You and Your Guests – If you’re hosting, create a safe space for yourself and your guests with allergies and asthma. Encourage guests with asthma to avoid the grill, or consider cooking methods that produce less smoke, such as oven-grilling vegetables. If your guests have pet allergies, consider keeping pets confined to areas away from where guests will gather, as well as away from food preparation areas. Consider using allergen-free products for picnics and outdoor settings, such as unscented insect repellents and hypoallergenic sunscreens.
  5. Stay Hydrated and Cool – Heat and humidity can worsen asthma symptoms, so staying cool and hydrated is essential. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. If you’re planning to be outside for an extended period, wear light, breathable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  6. Let’s Eat! (food that is safe) – Food is an important part of 4th of July celebrations, but it can pose risks for those with food allergies. Communicate your allergies clearly to hosts or guests and inquire about ingredients used in dishes. If you’re unsure about the safety of certain foods, bring your own allergy-friendly snacks and meals. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils and serving dishes for allergen-free foods.
  7. Crash! Boom! Wheeze – While fireworks are a highlight of the 4th of July, they can release a significant amount of smoke and particulate matter into the air, triggering asthma symptoms. Watching from a distance can reduce exposure, but it’s also wise to wear a mask if you expect to be close to fireworks. Keeping windows closed at home during nearby displays can prevent smoke from entering your living space.

Celebrating the 4th of July with allergies and asthma requires careful planning and awareness. By understanding your triggers, managing medications, and creating a safe environment, you can enjoy the festivities while minimizing health risks. If your allergies and asthma aren’t well-controlled, an allergist can help you live the life you want. Use the ACAAI allergist locator to find an allergist in your area.

About ACAAI ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College 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. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram  and Twitter/X.

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