Spring and fall have a well-deserved reputation for being the worst allergy seasons, but that doesn’t mean summer is exempt from allergic misery. Spring brings tree pollens from oak, elm, mulberry, mountain cedar and other allergenic trees. Fall is a weed-fest, with ragweed pollen bringing suffering to the masses. Some people get a breather in between, but other people find summer to be just as allergenic as other seasons.
So what causes summer allergies? Here’s a look at the most common triggers and how you can minimize their influence on your health.
Grasses pollinate early in summer. Bermuda, Timothy, blue, orchard, red top, and sweet vernal are among the most allergenic grasses. To avoid these pollens, keep your lawn mowed short—it’s less likely to pollinate that way. That said, however, if grass is your kryptonite, you shouldn’t be the one mowing it. Delegate or hire it out, and save yourself some misery. Also, check your local pollen count; if grass pollens are particularly prevalent on a given day, stay indoors.
Just as grass pollens subside, weeds are there to take their place. No rest for the weary! Ragweed is responsible for more allergic discomfort than any other pollen, and it can kick up as early as August. Ragweed afflicts most parts of the country, and it’s really difficult to avoid. Stay indoors during ragweed season and keep your windows and doors closed as well. You can wash your clothes and shower after being outside and switch to allergy-friendly HEPA filters for your air conditioning system.
Mold loves humidity, and in many parts of the country, the warm, humid months of summer provide the perfect Petri dish. Ventilate rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom that are prone to humidity, and use a dehumidifier to suck the moisture out of the air. (Try to keep the humidity levels below 60 percent.)
Bees emerge from hibernation in late spring, so they’re often out in force in the summer months. Insect allergies (including bees and fire ants) affect about 5 to 7 percent of the population, according to the Journal of Asthma and Allergy. People usually react to these bites with red, itchy welts on the skin, but those with severe insect bite allergies could spiral into anaphylaxis. This condition constricts the airways and elevates blood pressure, leading to shock and even death.
To avoid insect bites, wear close-toed shoes when you’re walking outside. Avoid leaving sugary snacks out as insects will find them. Don’t wear bright clothes that could attract bees, and if a bee is buzzing in your personal space, avoid swatting it. Rather, slowly walk away from the bee with no sudden or jerky motions.
If summer allergens are cramping your style, talk to your doctor. They can order an allergy test kit to gauge your allergic sensitivities, then prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for no-hassle allergy relief. SLIT works like allergy shots, desensitizing your immune system to the triggers that once made you miserable. SLIT is dispensed as under-the-tongue droplets. Since they are safer than shots, they can be taken in the comfort of home instead of at the doctor’s office.