Absolutely Summer allergies are a thing! Depending on where you live, summer brings enjoyable warmth which makes plants bloom and creates an inviting environment for insects.
Additionally, foods that you consume in the summer can cause your summer allergy symptoms as well.
These factors combine and create a perfect mix of misery for allergy sufferers
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What Are Summer Allergies?
Summer allergies are simply allergies that you have in summer.
In general, an allergy is an abnormal response from your immune system against a substance that is usually harmless, like pollen and pet dander.
Some people only experience allergy symptoms during certain seasons, while others have allergies year-round (perennial).
What Causes Summer Allergies?
Summer allergies can be caused by a multitude of triggers.
The most common summer allergy triggers are grasses & weeds, molds, insect bites and stings, and consumption of certain fruits and vegetables.
Grass and Weed Pollen
Grass and weed pollen spreads by hitching a ride with the wind.
Pollen is small in size and can easily attach to your clothing, skin, and hair.
These tiny allergy-causing particles fit easily through window screens and end up inside your home which can cause even more issues for you or a loved one.
Some folks (like me) have a less common allergy to grass called contact dermatitis, this means when it touches your skin, you develop a reaction typically in the form of hives (urticaria).
Types of Grasses and Weeds That Cause Allergies
There is a multitude of grasses and weeds that you may be allergic to. Here is what an allergist may test for.
- Kentucky Blue
- Sweet Vernal
- English Plantain
- Lamb’s Quarters
- Russian Thistle
- Sheep Sorrel
Mold and Fungi Spore Allergies in Summer
With mold and fungi, my first thought is “How could my mold allergy be worse in summer when it’s so hot out?”
Allergy Asthma Foundation of America states that mold and fungi “seeds” also known as spores travel in the dry windy air, or warm humid environments.
Summer tends to be dry and windy, or warm and humid… great for mold and fungi, bad for allergy sufferers.
Grasses, Weeds, and Molds, Summer Allergy Symptoms
Grasses, weeds, and molds (fungi too) produce very similar symptoms, so I have combined the categories for this symptom breakdown.
- Itchy Eyes
- Runny Nose
- Post-Nasal Drip
- Sore throat
- Hay Fever
Insect Stings and Bites
If you are allergic to insect stings or bites, summer can make you more likely to suffer from a reaction.
Summertime is when a lot of insects are active, but so are humans…Our worlds end up colliding while we both try and enjoy the weather.
The first insect you are probably thinking about is the dreaded mosquito, did you know that only female mosquitoes bite?
Bee stings and fire ants are also quite common during the summer.
Insect bites & Stings Reactions
QuickStats: Number of Deaths from Hornet, Wasp, and Bee Stings, Among Males and Females — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2000–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:649. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6829a5
Not everyone reacts to insect bites, but those who do have reactions experience mild to severe symptoms.
There are an array of insect bite and sting symptoms, the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology summarizes these symptoms as follows.
Insect Bite & Sting Symptoms
- Localized swelling, welt, pain, and/or blister
- Itchy hives
- Abdominal cramping,
- Intense nausea or diarrhea
- Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
- Hoarse voice
- Swelling of the tongue or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
Summertime Fruit & Vegetable Allergy Triggers
Fruits and vegetables can cause summer allergy symptoms because the plant’s proteins and pollen are closely related to the grass and tree pollen you are likely allergic to.
Consuming certain fruits and veggies when you are allergic to timothy grass, orchard grass, and ragweed puts you at an elevated risk of triggering Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) during the summer months.
The Children’s Hospital of Philidelphia defines OAS as “A type of food allergy, is an allergic reaction that is confined to the lips, mouth, and throat.”
Potential Summer/Late Summer OAS Triggers
- White Potatoes
How common is Oral Allergy Syndrome?
The AAAAI estimates that 7.8% of adults in the United States suffer from hay fever, and Stanford Health care estimates that up to 70% of individuals with pollen allergies experience OAS symptoms.
There are currently about 209 million adults in the U.S., leading us to 11.4 million adults affected by OAS symptoms.
As you can see OAS is very common in individuals with pollen allergies, let’s go over the symptoms of OAS.
Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) Symptoms
The main concern with fruit and vegetables as they relate to summer allergy symptoms is the onset of Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).
According to AAAAI.org, the most common symptoms of OAS are itching and/or swelling of the mouth, throat, tongue, or lips, and possibly sneezing/nasal congestion.
How Long Do Allergies Last in the Summer?
The summer season is typically defined as running from 1 June through 31 August.
Unfortunately, there is no clear start and stop day for summertime allergies.
For individuals that live south of the equator (southern hemisphere), the summer allergy season spans from November through March.
The summer allergy season varies by location and weather patterns. Depending on where you live, summer allergies may start early as May and not end until October.
Summer allergies are real and cause us lots of miserable days throughout the year. Knowing what causes summer allergies, as well as the symptoms you may experience will assist you in deciding the best treatment and prevention options available to you.
Next up, check out Summer Allergy Treatment & Prevention Options, to get back to enjoying your summer sooner!