Summertime Sniffles? How To Manage Allergies During The Summer

Allergies for the sniffles

Suffering from allergies during the hot months? We only have a few weeks to get it under control before flu season attacks next.

If you didn’t know that allergies still exist during the summer months, well, now you know. The heat is a tough enough battle in itself, but toss in the grass, tree, and pollen count and you have a trifecta of symptoms waiting to attack. You can also have allergies to the sun and allergens inside the home like dust and mold.

Common Allergens

  • Weeds
  • Grass
  • Pollen
  • Smog
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Sun

How Do You Know If You Have Summertime Allergies?

If you experience any of the following symptoms in any mild to a severe form, then you likely have summer allergies. You can also have an allergy test done by a professional or doctor to determine if you have allergies, but for seasonal allergies that are usually not necessary.

Allergies this season

Symptoms:

  • Runny, watery, itchy eyes
  • Runny, itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, difficulty breathing

What Can I Take To Help With Allergy Symptoms?

Over-The-Counter Treatments

  • Antihistamines:
    • Benadryl (caution: will cause drowsiness)
    • Claritin
    • Zyrtec
    • Allegra

It may be beneficial to start taking allergy medicine ahead of the season if you already know you will experience symptoms. One to two weeks before the season is a good starting point and maintain throughout the season as necessary.

On occasion, some people actually become drowsy using antihistamines labeled as non-drowsy. If this occurs, try a different antihistamine to see if it works better.

  • Decongestants:
    • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): taken alone works well as a decongestant, but also comes combined with antihistamines for an additive effect to relieve most allergy symptoms at once. Anything that has the name followed by the letter D (Zyrtec-D, Claritin-D, Allegra-D) contains a decongestant called pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), which must be purchased at the pharmacy counter because of limits on how much can be sold to one person per day. There is also a decongestant product that contains phenylephrine, which is a weaker version of pseudoephedrine but can still be effective. This decongestant is not located behind the counter and is more easily accessed. 
  • Nasal Spray: to reduce inflammation/swelling, and relieve symptoms
    • Flonase
    • Nasacort
    • Afrin
    • Rhinocort
    • Saline
  • Eye Drops: to combat itchy, watery eyes
    • Alaway
    • Zaditor
    • Claritin
    • Refresh
    • Visine
  • Irrigation: to manually flush out debris for easier breathing

As opposed to nasal sprays, nasal irrigation does not contain any medication. It helps symptoms by clearing mucus and flushing sinuses with saline water.

How To Make Summer Allergy Season Easier

Allergy season is ahead, it's coming

Aside from treating your symptoms, here are eight lifestyle tips that will assist in the battle against summertime allergens.

  1. HEPA air filter- high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters force air through a fine mesh that traps particles and allergens, making your air cleaner. You could also use an air purifier, which contains HEPA filters if you’re in a smaller space.
  2. Remove shoes indoors- this will prevent tracking allergens throughout your living space.
  3. Change clothing- when you make it back indoors, have an indoor outfit ready to change into. Remove the day’s attire and trade it in for a comfy t-shirt and shorts to keep allergens from work, school, and the rest of the outside world from infesting your living space.
  4. Stay indoors- pollen, allergen, and smog data are available for your information and is very useful in determining when it’s better to avoid the outdoors. When the allergen counts are low, this is a better opportunity to head out and enjoy the weather. When the counts are high, it’s best to stay indoors to avoid the triggers altogether.
  5. Wash your clothes and linens in hot water- this gets rid of allergens like dust mites.
  6. Keep indoor humidity low- if you have control over how humid your living space is, try aiming for less than 30%-50% to prevent molds and mites from thriving.
  7. Wear a mask: this will prevent debris from entering your system when doing work outside
  8. Stay Hydrated: maintaining good hydration helps your body react to allergens more easily

Remember, always practice good sense when choosing over-the-counter medications and always consult with a pharmacist or doctor before taking any medication.

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