Despite the beautiful weather and sweet lure of sunshine, summer can be a time of great discomfort for all those living with allergies and asthma. In addition to backyard barbecues and trips to the beach, the season brings a wave of allergens, high pollen counts, muggy air, mold and summer heat.
While avoiding allergens completely is typically the best way to prevent reactions, we understand that it is sometimes just not possible. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you feel your best while making the most of your summer months in the Lowcountry.
Keep the outdoors out.
Keeping the outdoors out of your home can often make the difference between small flare-ups and constant sneezing fits. It is crucial to keep your home environment allergen-free to prevent prolonged discomfort. However, this is easier said than done.
Pollen and other allergens are often invisible to the naked eye, making them difficult to detect. These allergens can easily invade one’s home by clinging to clothes, hair and pets. Once they enter, they can be difficult to eradicate.
When pollen collects in hair, it can transfer onto your pillowcase, making it especially easy to spread to sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose and mouth. Washing your hair (and pillowcases) frequently can combat this problem. Changing clothes upon entering the home can also limit the spread of any allergens you may have picked up in your travels.
Pet owners may find it more challenging to keep allergens out. Although it isn’t advisable to bathe your furry friends daily, consider washing their fur more often during the spring and summer. Brushing them is another way to help mitigate the issue and should be done in an outdoor setting to limit indoor allergen spread.
Keeping doors and windows closed is a great help in limiting the introduction of allergens into your home as well. This will not only protect from pollen and dust but also reduce the likelihood of receiving a sting or bite from venomous insects (bees, wasps, etc.) that could enter otherwise.
Adopt allergy-safe laundry practices.
There are home-cleaning strategies you can adopt to make living with summertime allergies more manageable. These include revamping your laundry routine to ensure the removal of tricky allergen particles like pollen, dust mites and more.
If you line-dry your clothes, do so indoors on a rack during allergy season. Leaving clothes outside for prolonged periods exposes them to outdoor allergens before even putting them on. This can have especially negative effects on towels and bedding since they are often in direct contact with your skin.
Washing laundry on a high-heat setting can also help rid fabrics of unwanted allergens as some, like dust mites, can survive wash cycles below 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have a treatment plan.
From bug bites at the family cookout to increased pollen exposure in the great outdoors, summer activities can increase the risk for allergic reactions or asthmatic episodes.
If you are allergic to insect stings, your board-certified allergist will recommend that you keep your EpiPen on you at all times. The same should be done with your prescribed inhaler if summertime triggers often lead to asthma attacks. And if you are enjoying more time dining out or eating potluck meals with friends, remaining mindful of recipe ingredients and keeping your EpiPen on hand is always recommended for those with food allergies.
Even if you or your child have relatively mild allergies, having medicine to assist with minor reactions, such as Benadryl, is a good practice.
Consult the pollen meter.
Due to pollen’s microscopic nature and the frequent fluctuation of pollen levels, pollen meters have become essential tools for helping patients live healthy lives. Our team is committed to our patients and has developed the only certified local pollen meter in the Lowcountry. We advise all pollen allergy patients to make it a habit to check the pollen count regularly.
Keep all allergens in mind.
While pollen allergies are quite common, there are other allergens that may cause flare-ups during spring and summer. One that is commonly overlooked is mold, which can grow quickly after rain during hot and humid months. Although it is more commonly associated with autumn weather in many regions, mold is a year-round pest for those allergic in the Lowcountry. Hot weather can also make breathing more difficult for many who suffer from allergies or asthma, especially when coupled with high humidity.
Keeping tabs on all these factors is essential, even if pollen is your primary trigger. Combinations of these allergens can often lead to discomfort, which is why assessing environmental conditions and planning for your day is vital for those living with allergies.
Know your allergens. Know your body.
Allergies and their symptoms vary highly from person to person. An allergen may cause one individual to develop a dry cough, while another may go into full anaphylactic shock. If you notice the development of what you believe to be an allergic reaction, it is important to pay attention to your body, as this may allow you to recognize the trigger of the reaction and the symptoms it has caused.
Doing this with your child is also important, as they will not always connect the dots between their allergens and their symptoms in many cases. The best way to prepare for seasonal allergies and find a treatment that works well for you is to get an allergy test from a board-certified allergist. A simple skin test can reveal exactly what you’re allergic to within minutes.
Once your allergy test is completed, your board-certified allergist can provide you with a recommended, personalized treatment plan, including tailor-made immunotherapy treatments, or allergy shots, which are considered the closest thing to an allergy cure.
Summer should be a time for fun in the sun. While untreated seasonal allergies can make this time difficult for some, applying the tips above should make living life easier. If you’re ready to tackle your summer allergies head-on, request an appointment with one of our board-certified allergists.