In the summer, grass pollen and weeds can cause summer asthma flare-ups when the grass is at its height of activity. When your immune system experiences pollen, it treats it like an invader responding with coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.
At Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates, we’ve put together a guide on summer asthma symptoms and how to ease them this season.
What are the Symptoms of Summer Asthma and Allergies?
If you have summer allergies, you will likely experience the following symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Watery, itchy, burning eyes
- Itchy throat or mouth
If you have asthma, you could experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the chest area
Keep in mind that these are the typical symptoms of asthma. The only difference in the summer is that your symptoms may worsen if you are allergic to common summer allergens.
What are the Common Summer Allergens?
Grass pollen is a common trigger for summer allergies. You may have noticed these powdery granules that are used for plant fertilization collecting on your car or window sills during the summer.
There are a variety of grasses that produce pollen and are common in Pittsburgh, including Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Perennial ryegrass, Fescue grass, and more.
In addition to grass pollen, you may also experience a reaction to weed allergens toward the end of the summer. Common weed allergies include ragweed, white sagebrush, tumbleweed, pigweed, and more.
How Can I Prevent My Summer Allergy and Asthma Symptoms?
To help prevent a flare-up of summer allergies or asthma, we’ve put together some helpful tips to keep you feeling great this summer:
Keep up With the Dusting and Vacuuming
Pollen can collect in dust throughout the home, so to keep the pollen levels down, we recommend that you vacuum and dust your home’s surfaces often. You can also wear a mask to help prevent you from inhaling the pollen as you clean.
Keep Your Windows Closed
If you are driving, make sure to close the windows and use your AC to stay cool. You should do the same in your home. Keeping the windows closed helps keep the allergens out of your home.
Dry Your Clothes Indoors
If you hang clothes out to dry outdoors, it allows pollen to collect on the clothing. If you need to dry your clothes, use the dryer or hang them up inside when pollen counts are high.
Watch the Pollen Counts
Your local weather forecast should show you a daily pollen count update. If not, you can look them up online at the National Allergy bureau’s website.
If the pollen counts are high, we recommend that you stay indoors as much as possible. Warm, windy days tend to be the worst days for pollen counts. Rainy days tend to be the lowest. If you need to go out, try to get out toward the evening, as pollen counts are usually highest in the morning and midday.
If you go out when the pollen counts are high, be sure to wash your hair and change your clothes to get rid of the pollen and keep your symptoms at bay.
How Are Summer Allergies Treated?
You can treat the symptoms of your summer allergies and asthma in a number of ways. When it comes to asthma, you need to take your
inhaled steroid every day as prescribed by your doctor. We also recommend that you keep your rescue inhaler handy if your symptoms flare-up.
Our allergists may recommend treatment with allergy shots or allergy immunotherapy if you are experiencing symptoms several months out of the year. Other treatments also include:
Nasal Decongestant Sprays
This is a short-term fix to relieve nasal symptoms. You can’t use this treatment throughout the summer or other allergy seasons. Using this treatment for more than three days can cause your body to become reliant on them and can worsen your nasal symptoms.
This is a common treatment for allergy symptoms, and they work to treat the underlying allergic response. These include over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl and Chlortrimenton, which are affordable but can cause you to become drowsy.
Non-drowsy options include Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. While these are effective at being non-drowsy, they can be more expensive.
Nasal Steroid Sprays
This includes products like Flonase, which work to reduce nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and inflammation. You may be prescribed these sprays or purchase them over the counter. They are usually safe to use under the supervision of your doctor but can cause side effects like nose bleeds.
If you’d prefer a non-drug treatment, you may consider a saline rinse for gentle yet effective results. With a saline rinse, you will flush your nasal passages with salt water. This works to remove pollens, allergens, and mucus and is available over the counter.
Eye allergies can be treated with a wide range of eye drops available on the market. We recommend natural tear eye drops since they are the most gentle and will work for mild symptoms. Overuse of Visine Allergy can actually worsen your symptoms.
If you have more severe eye allergies, you may need an antihistamine eye drop such as Zaditor. Your doctor can also prescribe you eye drops to relieve your symptoms.