The best part of summer is the time spent having fun outdoors; however, individuals with asthma and allergies must also be aware of triggers and potentially dangerous situations specific to summertime. To help keep you and your family safe and symptom-free this summer, we’re sharing a few general safety tips to keep in mind.
- Spring is not the only season that yields pollen. During the summer, people allergic to grass pollens may experience symptoms. Grass pollen is common throughout the summer months and often overlaps with the fall weed pollen (ragweed) season. In the southeast, we can begin to see ragweed pollen as early as August and it will continue into the fall months. If you know grass or ragweed pollens are a particular trigger for you or a family member, be sure to have a treatment plan in place as early in the season as possible. There are new treatment options for grass and ragweed allergy, so be sure to discuss them with your Atlanta Allergy physician. Also, keep up with the daily Atlanta Allergy Pollen Count here to be aware of high count days.
- Airborne mold spores are another summertime allergy trigger. There are thousands of different molds that produce spores. Counts are at their highest when temperatures and humidity soar, especially during and after thunderstorms. Symptoms can include sneezing, congestion, nasal itching, and runny nose. An allergy skin prick test can identify your specific triggers.
- As the warm summer months roll around and more time is spent outdoors, instances of insect stings tend to rise. For individuals with stinging insect allergy, this poses a more serious threat. Anyone who has had a significant reaction to an insect sting should see a board certified allergist for testing. Once the diagnosis of an insect venom allergy is confirmed, the most effective treatment is a combination of insect venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) and avoiding exposure to insects. Venom Immunotherapy is 95% effective in preventing future allergic reactions. Here are some tips for avoiding insect stings.
- Smog, a combination of smoke, dirt, and gases, is a factor that aggravates individuals with asthma and can trigger asthma symptoms. Smog is especially harmful in the summer due to the intense heat and sunlight that cause production of ozone from air pollutants to build up in the air. You can reduce the risk of suffering from breathing problems and a potential asthma attack by remaining indoors during the hottest hours of the day and keep car windows closed especially during peak commuting hours. Additionally, exercising indoors or reducing the level of intensity of your workout can help prevent asthma symptoms. Pay attention to the EPA’s Air Quality Alerts and remember to always take your asthma medication as prescribed.
- Your house becomes an escape from pollen, pollution, and insects during the summer, but it also is a home for indoor allergens. Indoor allergens, which include dust, animal dander, and mold, can easily trigger allergic symptoms; however, you can tackle this issue by cleaning your home often. Regular dusting, vacuuming, and replacing your air filters help to control these allergens while keeping your home a refuge from the summer heat. If indoor allergens are causing your symptoms — speak with your allergist for a plan to combat these hard-to-avoid triggers.
- And finally, travel is often a big part of summer plans. The most important tip is to plan in advance for travel. Check the climate of your destination for possible symptom triggers and research your accommodations (pet policy, non-smoking rooms.) Check your insurance coverage in the event you need medical attention, especially if traveling abroad. Locate a pharmacy, clinic/hospital at your destination, and consider investing in a portable nebulizer if applicable. When traveling with a food allergy, make sure your chosen travel site can meet your needs and that language is not a barrier to safety. And always have your injectable epinephrine with you. Make sure all medications are where they are easily accessible, especially when traveling by plane.
To discuss any concerns or treatment options for your allergy or asthma symptoms, schedule an appointment to speak with an Atlanta Allergy & Asthma board-certified specialist.