As a life-long New Englander allergies have become a part of my life. Seasonally,I try to get by with over-the-counter remedies and avoidance of certain flora and fauna.
Unfortunately, I've discovered that my usual trigger list and my home arsenal might just have to be expanded.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), seasonal allergies can also affect those without pollen sensitivities due to some unexpected summer staples. Among the usual culprits, the ACCAI has identified other triggers that allergy and asthma sufferers (and even non-sufferers) my want to look out for:
• Summer fruits and veggies. An otherwise healthy snack can mean an oral allergy syndrome for people whose lips begin to tingle after sinking their teeth into a juicy peach – or melon, apple, celery and other fresh fruits and vegetables. People with common grass allergies can suffer from this condition, which is a cross-reaction between similar proteins in certain fruits and vegetables and the allergy-causing grass, tree or weed pollens. The simple solution is to avoid the offending food, or just put up with the annoying but short-lived (and seldom dangerous) reaction. If symptoms are bothersome, see an allergist to identify the offending pollen and develop a treatment plan to find relief.
• Changes in the weather. Be it stifling humidity or a refreshing cool breeze, sudden changes in the weather can trigger an asthma attack. Wind can spread pollen and stir up mold, affecting those who suffer from grass or tree pollen and mold allergies. Allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating allergic and asthmatic diseases, and can develop asthma action plans to ensure diseases are kept in check no matter the season or the temperature.
• Campfire smoke. Toasting marshmallows or sitting out at a bonfire is a lot less fun if it results in an asthma attack. Smoke is a common asthma trigger. Sit upwind of the smoke and avoid getting too close to help prevent an asthma flair-up.
• Stinging insects. As if the pain isn’t bad enough, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergic reaction to the sting of yellow jackets, honey bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants. Coverup when gardening or working outdoors, avoid brightly colored clothing, forget the perfume and take caution when eating or drinking anything sweet, all of which attract stinging insects. Be especially careful with open soft drink cans. An allergist might advise carrying epinephrine for emergency relief in the event of being stung. See an allergist for skin testing to identify the offending insect and ask about. Allergy shots which can provide life-saving protection.
• Chlorine. Although not an allergen, the smell of chlorine from pools or hot tubs can be an irritant and cause flairs of either allergy-like eye and nose symptoms or asthma in some people.
The experts do say however that with proper planning these triggers, (while potentially health hazardous) as well as others can be dealt with.
“Although symptoms may not always be severe, summertime allergies and asthma are serious and, in some cases, deadly,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee. “However, these conditions shouldn’t damper summer fun. Proper diagnosis and treatment involves more than just relieving symptoms, it can find the source of your suffering and stop it.”
You can find out more about allergies here.
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Tara Weng is the national editor of parenting and health for GalTime. She is also a media consultant with a focus on medical and consumer topics. Her professional experience includes a stint as a medical/features producer at the NBC affiliate in Boston, MA and a media relations position at a top teaching hospital in Boston. Tara has also done public relations consulting work and has written for several online and print media outlets. She is a wife and a mother to two children (who are fantastic) and an enthusiastic New England sports fan.