With summer events and gatherings coming up such as the Fourth of July celebrations, we thought to share some advice and tips for an enjoyable summer holiday season.
Recently, we sat down with Dr. Mitesh Popat, CEO of Venice Family Clinic and Medical Board Member at Tivic Health, along with Dr. Maeve O’Connor, Founder, and Medical Director at Allergy Asthma and Immunology Relief of Charlotte, North Carolina, to gather some insights on how you can prepare, have fun, and make the most of your summer gatherings.
With summer events and holiday gatherings like the Fourth of July coming up, what are potential allergic rhinitis triggers to watch out for?
Dr. Popat: Allergy symptoms in the summer can be similar to those that occur in the spring, with similar triggers. Some people thus suffer from spring well into summer. Common symptoms are sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, etc. Those with grass allergies tend to be a bit worse in the summer. Additionally, air pollution is often worse with hotter temperatures.
Dr. O’Connor: Outdoor allergens that can trigger allergy symptoms in the summer include tree pollen, grass, and mold. Tree pollen is especially prevalent when the outdoor temperature is cool at night and warm during the day. Grass grows in every US location so avoiding it during the summer is nearly impossible especially if you are planning any outdoor activities.
Mold can also be a cause of summer allergies, increasing in concentration and potential exposure in dry windy weather for some types of molds, while other mold spores thrive when humidity is high.
What tips can you share, to help allergy sufferers stay safe, healthy, and enjoy their holiday celebrations?
Dr. Popat: Avoiding allergens and triggers that affect the individual, to the extent known and possible, of course. Using as-needed treatments that are effective such as the ClearUP bioelectronic sinus device, neti pot, intranasal steroids, etc.
Dr. O’Connor: Take allergy medications in advance to prevent symptoms. Avoid smoke from fireworks, campfires, and barbecues as smoke can act as an irritant, making allergy symptoms and asthma worse.
Keep sunglasses on when outside to avoid allergy symptoms in the eyes (allergic conjunctivitis). And set out a blanket or towel, or grab a chair, before picnicking directly on the grass.
Insects enjoy picnics just like humans do but certain insects such as fire ants, bees, wasps, and yellow jackets can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Avoiding insects is best but you can minimize the chances of encountering insects by avoiding wearing bright-colored clothing, keeping drinks and food covered if outdoors, containing trash, avoiding perfume, and using insect repellent.
Be sure to check all food ingredients as well so that the holiday can be enjoyed without an allergic reaction to an accidentally ingested food allergen. July birthdays and the Fourth of July also lead to the use of balloons which may contain latex, another allergen to look out for!
Other general allergy tips:
- Allergy sufferers should become familiar with local climate conditions such as humidity, pollen counts, air quality, and changes in temperature. Limiting contact with outdoor allergens is a great way to prevent symptoms.
- While outdoors, wear a face mask and long-sleeved clothes.
- Always shower immediately after being outdoors and vacuum regularly to get outdoor pollen out of the home.
- Keep windows and doors of your car and home closed. Running the air conditioning and using HEPA filters can help as well.
- Some allergy sufferers need to take preventative medicines such as antihistamines or nasal spray prior to going outside while others may need daily medication to keep symptoms at bay.
- If you suffer from asthma using your short-acting bronchodilator prior to going outdoors may be helpful in preventing an allergen-induced asthma flare.
- Your healthcare provider can advise you which medications you may need on an as-needed or going basis to control allergy symptoms.
What tips can you share for managing Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS) or Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)?
Dr. O’Connor: Cross-reacting allergens found in pollen and raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables can cause Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS) or Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) leading to symptoms such as scratchy throat, itching of the lips and mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or mouth, or itchy ear, hives. Most PFAS sufferers have mild and short-lived issues that resolve without treatment but, rarely, more severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis can occur.
Common triggers for this include tomatoes, peaches, bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, celery, apples, and more. Avoiding this food in raw form is the safest thing to do. Many PFS patients can tolerate these in baked form, however.
Be sure to take an antihistamine to treat mild symptoms and keep epinephrine close by if at risk of anaphylaxis. Talk to your allergist about the safest way to enjoy these summer treats!
Make Sure Your Red White and Blue Celebration is Allergy and Asthma-Free (ACAAI.org)
Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (ACAAI.org)
Allergies and Travel (CDC.gov)