If you find yourself constantly sniffling, sneezing, and rubbing your eyes during the summer, you might be suffering from summer allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. These allergies can make the sunny season a miserable time for those affected. Symptoms of summer allergies include watery and irritated eyes, a scratchy throat, sneezing, and a stuffy nose. It's important to identify the triggers of these allergies in order to find relief and enjoy the summer to the fullest.
What do seasonal allergies look like?
Summer allergies can bring a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Many individuals with seasonal allergies experience itching and irritation in various parts of their face and respiratory pathways, including the eyes, nose, throat, and mouth. Congestion and frequent sneezing are common, and the eyes may itch and water. Overall, summer allergies can cause a general sense of discomfort.
What are the causes of summer allergies?
Summer allergies are typically triggered by environmental factors. By understanding the causes of your allergies and taking steps to avoid these triggers, you can find relief and fully enjoy the summer season.
The main culprit: grass pollen
One of the primary triggers for summer allergies is grass pollen. Up to 30% of the population suffers from some form of grass pollen allergy. Usually, grass pollen allergies peak in June and July. However, if you live in a warm climate, you may be exposed to grass pollen allergies throughout the year. Many different types of grass can cause allergies, and it's worth noting that pollen can easily travel through the air, leading to allergic symptoms even if you are not directly in contact with the grass.
Weeds also trigger symptoms
If you experience allergic symptoms later in the summer, weeds may be the cause. Weed pollen typically peaks between August and the fall. Common weeds that can trigger allergies include ragweed, amaranth, sage, mugwort, and European spindle.
Mold thrives in warm air
Mold grows rapidly in hot and humid weather conditions during the summer. While mold allergies usually peak in the fall, it is possible to experience summer allergies caused by mold, especially in damp weather. Mold spores can be found both indoors and outdoors, so it's important to take precautions if you have mold allergies.
Air pollution is worse in summer
High levels of air pollution during the summer can also trigger allergies. Dust, smoke from forest fires, and other pollutants can worsen allergic symptoms. This is particularly problematic for individuals with allergic asthma, as the combination of allergies and high air pollution can increase the risk of asthma attacks. Studies have shown that people with asthma have up to a 40% higher chance of experiencing an attack on days with high air pollution.
Stinging insects are more active
In addition to hay fever symptoms, some individuals may also experience an allergic reaction to insect bites during the summer months. Stinging insects like mosquitoes, wasps, and hornets become more active during this time, increasing the risk of painful bites. Taking precautions to avoid insect bites can help alleviate allergic reactions.
Other symptoms of summer allergies
Summer allergies can cause a range of symptoms, including itching in various parts of the body such as the eyes, mouth, nose, and skin. Runny nose, changes in sense of smell, sneezing, watery eyes, and a congested or stuffy nose are also common. Coughing, blocked or plugged ears, sore throat, swelling, dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, irritability, and headaches can also be associated with summer allergies.
How to diagnose summer allergies?
If you suspect that you have summer allergies, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional. During the consultation, you will be asked to describe your symptoms in detail, including their frequency and triggers. The healthcare professional will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. Allergy tests may be conducted to determine what specific allergens you are reacting to. Skin tests are commonly used, although blood tests may be preferred in certain cases.
Once you have identified the substances you are allergic to, you can take steps to avoid triggers and work with your healthcare professional to develop a personalized treatment plan.