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Allergens know no boundaries, and allergies don't disappear with May's showers. While bothersome grass pollens are gone by late June, other common triggers arise, making symptoms difficult to escape. But that doesn't mean the more than 60 million Americans that suffer from allergies and asthma can't enjoy barbeques, festivals and other outdoor activities.
To help you understand what may prompt summer allergies and asthma attacks, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) answers common questions and separates fact from fiction.
Are allergies less common in the summer?
Pollen counts tend to be high during the spring and dissipate in early summer. But weather changes can elevate allergy symptoms. Strong winds stir up molds and pollens. Outdoor molds contribute to most summer symptoms, until weeds begin to pollinate in early August. Because the severity of allergies depends on weather conditions, and different types of pollens peak at different times, it's difficult to classify a certain season as being the worst for allergies.
What are other common summer allergy triggers?
More than 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as melons, peaches and celery, can be allergy-causing culprits. However, the cause isn't always the food itself. Allergic reactions often occur as part of a cross-reaction among similar proteins in fruits and vegetables and allergy-causing grass, tree or weed pollens. If you experience severe discomfort after eating a certain type of fruit or vegetable, see an allergist to find relief and develop a treatment plan.
Are stinging insects attracted to certain people?
Two million Americans are allergic to insect stings, and many of these individuals are at risk of suffering life-threatening reactions to insect venom. While the jury is still out on what makes certain people more susceptible to biting and stinging pests than others, sweet-smelling perfumes and bright clothing are known to attract these insects. If you experience facial swelling, difficulty breathing or another unusual reaction after insect stings, call 911 and receive immediate emergency care. Follow up with an allergist, who will prescribe epinephrine and possibly allergy shots that can save your life.
Are some people allergic to chlorine?
The short answer is no, chlorine is not an allergen. However, the smell of chlorine is an irritant for some, causing allergy-like eye and nose itching and discomfort. Some people with asthma also experience difficulties when coming in contact with chlorine.
What other summer activities can be problematic?
Summer sports and other outdoor activities can be difficult for those suffering from asthma symptoms or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Believe it or not, baseball games can create a hazard zone for those suffering from peanut allergies. When attending games, try to keep away from peanut shells and debris, and carry allergist prescribed epinephrine. Smoke from summer staples like campfires and fireworks can also be bothersome for asthma sufferers. Allergists advise avoiding smoke or sitting upwind if possible.
Anyone with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night this summer. No one should accept less. A board-certified allergist can identify the source of your seasonal suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms. To find an allergist and find relief, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.