The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. There’s not a cloud in the sky…so, why are you sneezing? You might be suffering from summer allergies.
What causes allergies to flare up when you should be outside enjoying a little fun in the sun? The most common triggers are pollen and outdoor mold. Here are some of the things at the root of summer allergies:
- Pollen: While the source of pollen can vary depending on where you live, it will often start affecting allergy sufferers in late July or August. While tree and grass pollen are the spring culprits, in the summer you can thank weed pollen, especially ragweed, for your watery eyes.
- Mold: Outdoor mold spores peak in hot, humid summer months, particularly following thunderstorms. The spores grow on fallen leaves, compost piles, and grasses. Using a HEPA filter in your home can help mitigate your allergic symptoms.
- Insect Stings: Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are all active in the summer and can be attracted by sweet smells (like that daiquiri you might be sipping on a patio). For some people reactions to stings can be extremely severe, even fatal. Thankfully for most people they are simply painful and cause itchiness and hives.
- Sunscreen: Did you know that some people may be allergic to sunscreen? Fortunately, there are now a variety of hypoallergenic products on the market, so having a reaction to one product doesn’t mean you have to hide from the sun – just be sure to test a new product on a small area before slathering it all over.
- Outdoor Plants: While poison ivy is the most common, there’s also poison oak and poison sumac. Fortunately, these plants can typically be avoided if you know what to look for – but if you happen to have an unfortunate contact, talk to your pharmacist for over-the-counter products, like simple rubbing alcohol, that help soothe the symptoms.
- Fruits and Vegetables: We’re not talking about serious food allergies that induce anaphylaxis, but cross-reactions to pollens on the surface of produce. These reactions can cause an itchiness of the tongue, mouth and lips, which is why careful rinsing is a wise precaution.
How to reduce symptoms
When it comes to summer allergies, the symptoms can go beyond just a runny nose. Depending on the cause of your allergies, you may be in for dark circles under your eyes, severe itching or allergy-induced asthma.
- Wearing sunglasses: Not only will they protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, they can also help keep pollen out of your eyes.
- Drying laundry inside: Line dried laundry might smell fresh, but it can also pick up a dusting of pollen. So, if your allergies are caused by ragweed or other pollens, it’s best to machine dry or wait for a day with a low pollen score.
- Closing the windows: Whether in the car or home, keep your windows up and the air conditioning on. For best results, recirculate the air.
- Yard Maintenance: If it’s mold that is causing your allergies, make sure your yard is free of fallen leaves, debris, and that freshly cut grass is quickly cleared away. If your allergies are really bad, you may want to wear a mask while cutting the grass… or hire someone to do it for you!
Talk to your physician or pharmacist about what over the counter antihistamines are available to help you manage seasonal allergies.
So, if you are a summer allergy sufferer, we hope you find some relief this summer. And remember that different allergies can affect you on your travels, so it’s best to be prepared.
If you happen to be travelling outside your province of residence, don't forget to protect yourself with travel insurance that protects you in the event of an accident or a sudden illness. Ontario Blue Cross® travel insurance can help you pay for medical expenses that are not reimbursed by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec abroad. It also gives you access to a 24/7 assistance service to get all the support you need in case of a problem.