It seems odd to wake up in the dog days of summer with cold or allergy symptoms. We are much more accustomed to springtime allergies and winter colds. But it happens all the time. Many people are riddled with summertime allergies.
Stuffy nose, sore throat and congestion can be frustrating any time of year, but especially during the summer when you have vacations and other fun activities planned. Here’s how to tell if it’s summer allergies or just a cold, as well as how to prevent one of the most common summer allergens: mold.
Common Summer Allergies
Summer allergies are caused by many of the same things that cause more common spring allergies: trees, grasses, and weeds. Across these three plant types, different species bloom from spring to fall, creating a long period of time for your allergies to be active.
But not every allergy-like symptom is the result of something blooming. It can be hard to tell the difference, especially when so many things can be to blame. Below are the most common reasons you may experience allergy symptoms:
You may actually be allergic to something blooming in summer, such as ragweed, cocklebur, and sagebrush, among others. It is not at all uncommon to have allergic reactions to plants that bloom in the summer rather than spring.
Mold loves warm weather, and summer is also much more humid than other times of year. Mold growth is ugly, but it can make you and your family very sick. And the symptoms of mold allergies are very similar to cold and pollen allergy symptoms.
Depending on how mild or severe winter is, this can have a big impact on when things begin to bloom. Weather changes and barometric pressure can cause allergy-like symptoms that are actually in no way connected to allergies.
Symptoms of Summer Allergies
You may expect to see these symptoms in the spring, but when summer rolls around, it may not be your first instinct to assume they are allergy related. Summer allergies can result in all these symptoms:
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sneezing and coughing
- Sore throat
- Red, itchy eyes
- Dry, itchy skin
Avoiding Summer Allergens
If it really is allergies, it will serve you well to avoid the things that you are most allergic to. Here are a few ways to do that.
- Pay attention to air quality reports. Certain days will have higher pollen counts than others, so if you are sensitive to summer allergens, pay attention to daily pollen counts.
- Reduce indoor humidity. If something outside is making you cough and sneeze, lower the indoor humidity and run your air conditioning rather than opening windows, which allows allergens in. You can also invest in an air purifier to filter out mold spores and pollen.
- Keep dirt and allergens outside. Don’t wear shoes indoors, and take clothes off immediately when you have been outside during high pollen days. You should also wipe your pets’ fur and paws to reduce the amount of dirt and pollen they track in as well.
Is It Summer Allergies or a Cold?
The symptoms above sound a lot like a cold, so how do you tell the difference? Ad why would you need to?
For one thing, you could be contagious. For another, you need to know what’s wrong so you know how to treat it. Allergies can be treated with 24-hour antihistamines and, if they are severe enough, immunotherapy. Colds generally run their course, but you can treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
Here are a few ways colds and allergies differ:
- A cold will usually run its course within a few days, but allergies can last for weeks.
- Colds usually include body aches, but allergies will be more focused around itchiness and irritation.
- Colds are contagious. Allergies are not.
- Seasonal allergies will usually hit about the same time each year, so after a few years, you will recognize a pattern. Colds can happen any time and are the direct result of exposure to a virus.
With a cold, you’ll feel bad for a few days, but with rest and decongestants, your symptoms will be gone before you know it. Allergies are harder to overcome, and for most people, they get worse with age. In addition to treating your allergy symptoms, you need to avoid your triggers as much as possible.
Summer Air Quality
Besides the common allergy triggers, summer brings other factors that reduce the air quality outdoor and inside your home. The combination of summer heat and humidity can be very hard on people with allergies and asthma.
Volatile organic compounds, given off by modern manufacturing processes, mix with water vapor in the air and sunlight to create smog, and due to longer daylight hours, there is even more smog production during this time of year.
Another reason the air quality is reduced during the summer is smoke, whether it be from bonfires or wildfires. Wood smoke is highly irritating due to the presence of benzene, formaldehyde and other pollutants. Exposure to wood smoke can cause runny nose, watery eyes, and infections like bronchitis.
Tips to Prevent or Remove Mold
Of all the summertime allergy causes, mold is the most dangerous, because even when winter rolls around, you can still feel its effects.
Preventing mold is the best line of defense against this allergy. Mold thrives in warm, dark climates with adequate food and moisture. By removing these ideal conditions, you will make your home inhospitable to mold.
Repair leaks, reduce indoor humidity, and clean up spills immediately to prevent excess moisture in your home. Mold feeds on organic surfaces like soft wood, so regular household cleaning should knock out instances of mold in most places.
However, if mold finds its way into a hard-to-reach area — like the crawl space or within your walls — you’re going to need professional help getting rid of it. Professional mold remediation from Pure Maintenance of St. Louis is the best course of action because it gives you the assurance that every trace of growing mold colonies is gone. Only then can get mold allergies under control.