Yes and no. Sure, spring allergies to trees pollens may be winding down but that does not mean you are in the clear. Summertime brings a new list of possible triggers. Symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose or congestion as well as dark eyes, swelling of the eyes and itching of the mouth and/or eyes can signal the beginning of exposure to mold, grasses or ragweed. Mold thrives in damp areas including basements and bathrooms in addition to outdoor areas such as woods and water sources (lakes, streams, rivers, etc.). Ragweed starts early to mid-August and affects more than 23 million Americans. Treatment is best effective when started at least 2 weeks prior to the expected onset of symptoms. A proactive approach with medications or immunotherapy will alleviate the height of symptoms and suffering.
Oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food syndrome, can become more prevalent during summer when fresh fruits and veggies are consumed more frequently. This is caused when cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits or veggies is present, making the immune system react with an allergic response. It is common to begin experiencing issues even if the same foods have been consumed previously without issue. Symptoms can include itchy mouth, scratchy throat or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat. Symptoms typically will subside quickly once the food is swallowed or removed from the mouth.
Insect stings are also a common problem in the summer months. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants and other insects can cause allergic reactions when they sting. A severe allergy could lead to a life-threatening situation. Typically these insects cause mild symptoms such as itching or swelling around the sting site. However, if symptoms such as tongue or throat swelling, dizziness, or nausea present, medical help should be sought immediately.
As in most cases, avoidance is key yet not always ideal. Although there are measures you can take to reduce exposure, a trip to your board-certified allergist should be first on the list. The trusted allergists at Allergy Partners have a wealth of training and experience in diagnosing and treating asthma and allergic disease such as those mentioned above. Locations and physicians can be found by visiting www.allergypartners.com/locations.
By Dr. Bill McCann
Allergy Partners of Western North Carolina