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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 23, 2015) – You and your family have big 4th of July plans: fireworks, picnics, parades and swimming. Now you just need to make sure that no one ends up red (itchy rashes) white (box full of tissues) or blue (coughing or an asthma attack) for the wrong reasons.

“Summer is the time of year when everyone wants to enjoy being outside,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI.) “That’s why it’s so important to be prepared so allergies and asthma don’t overshadow the festivities.”

ACAAI has some tips to help you swell with pride – and not an allergic reaction – when you see the stars and stripes of the flag.

Splish splash – July 4th means getting in the water, but some people fear a chlorine allergy. While chlorine isn’t actually an allergen, it can be irritating, causing eye and nose itching. And it can cause some with asthma to experience difficulty breathing. Usually washing the affected area with clean water removes the irritant, although sometimes, a corticosteroid cream may need to be prescribed.

Buzz off! – Truth is, it hurts to get stung by an insect. But some people have a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction to insect venom. If you’re one of those people, you need to know what to do in an emergency. If you experience facial swelling, difficulty breathing or another unusual reaction after an insect sting, call 911 and receive immediate emergency care, including epinephrine (adrenaline.) Follow up with an allergist, who can evaluate you for insect allergy, and possibly allergy shots that can save your life.

Fly the flag, but steer clear of smoke. – Fireworks, campfires and asthma don’t mix. Smoke can cause asthma symptoms to flare, and allergists recommend keeping your distance from both campfires and fireworks. If you are near a campfire, sit upwind if possible. Go to a 4th of July concert instead, and always carry your reliever inhaler.

Some like it hot. Some don’t. – You’ve been looking forward to the hot weather, but sudden changes in temperature can trigger an asthma attack. Going inside a cold air-conditioned building or jumping into cold water could be a trigger. Consider indoor exercise and other activities on hot, high pollen and humid days, and watch out for “ozone alert” days. In addition, allergic symptoms from mold are common in the late summer and throughout the fall. Freshly mowed grass and dry, dusty sports fields can result in high mold exposure.

If you have symptoms keeping you from summer fun, make an appointment with an allergist for proper testing. For more information about seasonal allergies, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit


The 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 and Twitter.

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