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Summer Allergies

Many of the same allergic triggers that can make you feel bad in spring last into summer.

What Causes Summer Allergies?

Like spring, the biggest summer allergy trigger is pollen. When pollen gets into the noses of certain people, it triggers the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms.

Higher pollen counts usually mean worse symptoms.

Trees are usually done pollinating by late spring, leaving mostly grasses and weeds to trigger summer allergies.

Here are some of the worst summer allergy offenders:





Russian thistle





Blue grasses


Red Top

Sweet vernal


One of the most common summer allergy triggers is ragweed, which usually arrives in August. Ragweed can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. Even if it doesn’t grow where you live, it can make you feel bad if you’re allergic to it.

Summer air pollution can make allergy symptoms worse. One of the most common pollutants is ozone, which is created in the atmosphere by a combination of sunlight, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons from burning fuel. The stronger sunlight and calmer winds during summer can create clouds of ozone around some cities.

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and other insects can also cause allergic reactions in some people when they sting. Fire ants are also out in summer. Their bites can also cause life threatening allergic reactions.

Inside, molds love damp areas, including the basement and bathrooms. Their spores get into the air and can cause problems for allergy sufferers.

Dust mites -- microscopic insects -- peak during summer. They thrive in warm, humid temperatures and nest in beds, fabric, and carpets. Their residue can get into the air, triggering sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.

What Are the Symptoms of Summer Allergies?

Summer allergy symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Allergic reactions to insects usually cause mild symptoms, such as itching and localized swelling. But in a small percentage of people they can lead to a severe allergic reaction, with swelling of the throat or tongue, dizziness, nausea, and shock. This is an emergency and requires immediate medical help.

How Are Summer Allergies Diagnosed?

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and your allergy history. He may suggest allergy treatments. In some cases, he may refer you to an allergy specialist who may do a skin test, which exposes the skin of your arm or back to a tiny sample of allergen. If you’re allergic to a substance, a small red bump will form. A blood test can also diagnose allergies.

How Are Summer Allergies Treated?

Over-the-counter allergy treatments include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal spray decongestants (They shouldn't be used more than three days.)
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays (Nasacort and Flonase)
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal irrigation

WebMD Medical Reference

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