July 8, 2022
4 min. read

Summer Allergies: 3 Common Triggers and How to Treat Them

Medly

Good to Know:

  • Grass pollen, ragweed, and mold are some of the most common allergens during the summer months.
  • There are numerous treatment options for seasonal allergies to help you breathe easy and improve your quality of life.
  • If over-the-counter options don’t work for you, consider discussing allergy shots with your healthcare provider.

Summer’s a lot less fun when you’re battling allergy symptoms. And while some people think of spring as peak allergy season, the fact is seasonal allergies can occur any time of the year. An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance, such as pollen or mold, as a foreign invader. As a result, your body reacts by releasing chemicals called histamines to attack the allergens.

Quick Statistics: It’s estimated that 1 in 6 adults struggle with seasonal allergies.

Each season has different allergens as different plants blossom and grow. If you experience seasonal allergies during the summer months, your immune system may react to one of these common summer allergens.

 

Common allergens during the summer months include:

  • Grass pollen. Grass pollen is usually at its highest levels in late spring to early summer, but that can change depending on where you live. In more tropical climates, grass pollen is common year-round.
  • Ragweed. Ragweed is the most common culprit for symptoms of seasonal allergies, and it’s typically at its highest between late summer and early fall.
  • Mold. Mold spores can be found on plants or in soil, and like pollen, they also float through the air. In warmer climates, they reach their peak in late summer; in the South and on the West coast, they’re present year-round.

Quick Tips: It’s not uncommon for people with seasonal allergies to also have asthma. Allergy triggers can exacerbate asthma symptoms, and sometimes trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma and seasonal allergies, we recommend working with an allergist to find the right treatment option for you.

Your healthcare provider or allergist may recommend a skin test or blood test to identify which allergen triggers your seasonal allergies. Alternatively, you may also decide to use over-the-counter treatment options. You and your healthcare provider can work together to find the best option to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What are the signs and symptoms of summer allergies?

Speaking of symptoms, some common allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes, nose, and/or throat
  • Runny nose, nasal congestion, postnasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, causes symptoms in the nose—a.k.a. itching, running, congestion, and sneezing. It’s not uncommon for allergens to also cause symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, which leads to itchy, red, and watery eyes.

Quick Statistics: 70% of people with allergic rhinitis also experience allergic conjunctivitis.

Treating summer allergies

Here are some of the most effective ways to manage your allergy symptoms during the summer months, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Check the pollen count. Your local weather forecast should include pollen levels. When pollen counts are high, take allergy medication before your symptoms start, and stay inside if you can.
  • Wait ‘til it rains. The best time to go outside with summer allergies is after a rainstorm. The rain washes away the pollen and the air will be clearer.
  • Keep indoor air free of allergens using air conditioning and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifiers. If mold is an allergy trigger, use dehumidifiers as well.
  • Wash your clothes after going outside, and wash your sheets and pillowcases once a week. Use hot, soapy water and dry them indoors instead of hanging them on a line. Showering every day after going outside will keep pollen from sticking to your hair and skin as well.
  • Use over-the-counter medications, such as oral antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, or oral decongestants. These medications will improve your allergy symptoms.

What about immunotherapy?

If at-home treatments aren’t effective at alleviating seasonal allergy symptoms, you can talk to your health care provider about immunotherapy. Also called allergy shots or desensitization, immunotherapy trains your immune system to respond normally to allergens, rather than treat them as a threat. Typically, this is done when other treatments haven’t worked. If you find yourself struggling to maintain your quality of life with allergy symptoms, despite using at-home and over-the-counter methods, it might be time to ask about immunotherapy.

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