Summer Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Manage Reactions
With summertime comes long days drenched in sunshine and higher temperatures. While many of us enjoy the great outdoors during this season, summer also brings dangers and discomforts. These include seasonal allergies and an increased risk of dehydration, which can worsen allergy symptoms and make it more difficult for your body to fend off allergens.
If you’re one of the unlucky people who suffer from summer allergies, you may wonder what causes these reactions and how to manage symptoms. Here, we’ll show you the main causes, symptoms, and treatment plans for summer allergies. Plus, we’ll show you how to prevent dehydration and why it’s particularly important for allergy sufferers to stay hydrated during the warmer months.
Common Causes of Summer Allergies
While spring allergies get the most attention, summer allergies can wreak havoc for some individuals. Pollen and dust are often the main culprits behind these allergies, but summertime also brings other factors that may increase sneezing and watery eyes. Allergic reactions are caused when your body produces histamines to fight off an irritant. These histamines are behind the common sneezing, coughing, and itching symptoms of allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, airborne irritants, dust mites, and pollen are among the most common summer allergy triggers. Here’s a breakdown of the main causes of summer allergies.
While tree pollen peaks in mid-to-late spring, grasses and weeds commonly produce pollen later in the year — usually by the time summer is in full swing. The most common pollen allergies from weeds include ragweed, Russian thistle, sagebrush, and tumbleweed. Grass pollen is caused most commonly by Bermuda grass, orchardgrass, and sweet vernal grass. The plant pollen can be carried on windy days for miles, causing allergic reactions even if you don’t have these plants in your yard or near your home.
Mold thrives in warm, damp areas. As temperature and humidity increase, so does the risk of mold. People with mold allergies may have trouble breathing and suffer from watery eyes or a scratchy throat. When winds pick up, mold spores can travel through the air, causing allergic reactions.
Dust mites love hot and humid climates. As the mercury rises in thermometers, so does the number of these allergy-inducing critters. Dust mites live off dead skin cells and can be found in fabrics, carpets, and bedding. They can cause sneezing, coughing, itchy skin, and postnasal drip.
Unfortunately, just as we start to spend more time outdoors, air pollution and smog also tend to get worse. During summer, photochemical pollutants such as ozone and vehicle emissions become worse. They can cause difficulty breathing and chest congestion, as well as nasal irritation. With higher temperatures and more stagnant air, pollution can cause summer allergies and trigger asthma in certain individuals.
Insects that sting or create a stinging bite are also more common in the summertime. These include fire ants, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. When you get stung by one of these critters, you may experience swelling and itching at the affected area. Some people may develop severe reactions to insect stings, including anaphylactic shock – a severe allergy response that can be life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock symptoms include swelling of the tongue, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness.
Symptoms of Summer Allergies
While allergies in the summer months may have different causes than other seasonal allergies, most symptoms remain the same. Allergy symptoms can affect the lungs, sinuses, and skin depending on the allergen.
Here are the most common summer allergy symptoms:
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sneezing and coughing
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rash or skin irritation
How to Manage Summer Allergies
The best way to mitigate summer allergies is to identify what causes them in the first place. Start by visiting your general doctor or a board-certified allergist. They can use tests to determine what causes your allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Most tests involve pricking your skin and then applying a small amount of the most common or suspected allergens. If you’re allergic, you’ll develop a reaction, typically a raised, red, itchy bump at the affected area.
Once you know the allergens at fault, you can take steps to avoid and manage them. Treatment plans typically include a blend of mild to moderate interventions. Over-the-counter antihistamines can alleviate short-term symptoms. Additionally, prescription medication and immunotherapy procedures such as regular allergy shots can keep reactions in check or reduce them over time.
Nasal sprays and decongestants can help alleviate sinus symptoms. If you live in an area with high pollen counts or air pollution, you may also want to add a filter to your air conditioner.
Avoiding allergy triggers, especially in the summer months, is another key component in managing symptoms. Try to exercise or do work outside when pollen counts are low. This is typically in the early morning or late evening. On dry, hot, or windy days, try to keep outdoor activities to a minimum, as weather and temperatures can affect the daily pollen count. You can check pollen counts in your area to determine when it’s best to avoid the outdoors during allergy season.
How Hydration Relates to Allergies
For some allergy sufferers, staying inside isn’t an option. Whether you’re an endurance athlete, an engineer, a contractor, a firefighter, or serving in the military, your job doesn’t stop simply because pollen counts are high. Besides taking antihistamines and prescribed medication and undergoing immunotherapy, staying hydrated is a key way to manage summer allergies.
Studies show that being dehydrated can worsen allergy symptoms. Thus, staying properly hydrated can help support a healthy immune system and lower the risk of other summer dangers, including dehydration.
Dehydration is a medical condition in which your body loses more fluids and electrolytes than it can replace. Your body needs these substances — including sodium, potassium, and calcium — to perform normal functions, including muscle movement, and to produce signals from neurotransmitters. When you’re dehydrated, you may experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. These symptoms can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion as well as an increased risk for allergies.
Research shows dehydration can decrease the immune response, making it harder for your body to fend off allergies and leaving you more susceptible to allergen triggers. Studies also show dehydration can exacerbate allergy symptoms and increase asthmatic responses.
One such study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation examined the effects of dehydration on exercise-induced asthma and allergic responses. Researchers found dehydration reduced cardiac output, resulting in higher core temperature and reduced airway surface. This caused the bronchial tubes and lungs to constrict, making it more difficult for asthma and allergy sufferers to breathe.
There’s also a connection between histamines and dehydration. While histamines are widely known to cause allergies, they’re also a key component of hydration. When you’re dehydrated, your body produces histamines, which help to control the flow of water throughout your body. Additionally, histamines can also make summer allergy symptoms worse, particularly for people who have asthma.
Drinking DripDrop ORS can help treat symptoms of dehydration. This in turn may help to ease allergy symptoms, as it may help to thin mucus, easing congestion in nasal passages. It may also help to limit the production of histamine when you’re dehydrated.Avoid Dehydration With DripDrop ORS
If you suffer from common summer allergies, a treatment plan should include avoidance and short-term symptom relief. DripDrop ORS helps you absorb and maintain enough fluids and electrolytes so you can avoid dehydration, which may exacerbate allergies. DripDrop’s patented formula offers medically relevant electrolyte levels, improving on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) standards. What’s more — it tastes great.
When you're in a state of dehydration, no amount of water is enough. Your body needs the perfect balance of sodium and glucose to absorb fluids. With DripDrop ORS’s precisely balanced ratio, you can replenish vital electrolytes and fluids to relieve dehydration quickly. Plus, DripDrop ORS supplies vitamins like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, which offer essential support for your immune system and overall health. Get started with a trial or our popular multi-flavor pouch for fast dehydration relief.