August 22, 2021

Vacationing with Seasonal Allergies

Woman enjoying reading a book on a timber log in the middle of a field of wildflowers

The summer season is at high tide, and many people may be luxuriating in a full-service, posh resort vacation spot or simply enjoying a cool drink on the front porch after a tough day at work.

If you are one of the 50 million Americans who live with seasonal allergies, you may be wondering if you should even venture out to the mailbox each day and risk an encounter with Mother Nature’s chief allergy offender: Pollen.

If you have seasonal allergies, you have every reason to be cautious. Your immune system identifies the pollen you breathe in as an invader and will produce antibodies to protect you. The antibodies travel to your cells and release chemicals that cause an allergic reaction, such as wheezing, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and congestion. Now you are in a miserable state. Little-known geography fact: In Voluntown, Connecticut, there is a street named Hell Hollow Road and a scenic view called Mount Misery. Wonder what the pollen count is in mid-July and August?

The good news is that most people with seasonal allergies can control them with the help of allergy shots and medications. Take a look at the following tips to manage your allergies and reduce your exposure to pollen, and you won’t have to barricade yourself indoors all summer after all.

Why is grass so dangerous? Because it’s full of blades.

First, find out what you are actually allergic to. This may seem obvious, but many people just take a guess about what they are allergic to. You may never truly be able to blame your allergy symptoms on grasses and ragweed until you see an allergist or immunologist and ask about having an allergy test.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an allergy test will most likely be a skin-prick test. For this test, a diluted allergen is introduced using a puncture at the surface of the skin. Another testing method is an intradermal test where a diluted allergen is injected just below the skin surface with a super-thin needle. Your allergist will then observe your skin for about 15 minutes to determine if your body has a reaction to the allergen.

Don’t Trust Big Changes in the Weather – It’s Just a Front

Learn the best time and worst time to go outside. Pollen travels more easily in hot, dry, windy weather, so these conditions can worsen your allergy symptoms. Rainy, cloudy or windless days are better for outdoor activities because pollen doesn’t blow around as much.

Check your allergy forecast in your local vicinity each morning or use the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau map

Most people with allergies who find the right doctor can get medications to help control their symptoms even when pollen counts are high. They may be able to enjoy exercise and many other outdoor activities.

Taking your medications on time is essential. Most over-the-counter medications start working fairly quickly and should be taken 30 minutes before heading outside. Others take a few days before becoming fully effective against your symptoms.  

If You’re Not Barefoot, Then You’re Overdressed

You can really pile on the accessories when dressing for outdoor allergy protection. Hats, sunglasses, all those trendy facemasks can offer protection from allergy triggers for your hair, eyes, and nose.

When you get home, take off your shoes first thing before stepping inside. You will avoid tracking pollen throughout the house. Change into fresh clothes and maybe even consider a quick rinse-off in the shower. If you are out walking your pet, be sure to wipe the pollen from its coat before being allowed to come inside. A pack of unscented baby wipes at the door can make this easier.

Heading to the Beach?

Jetting off to an exciting vacation destination this season? Don’t forget to anticipate allergens when traveling. If it’s not a low allergen locale like the beach, you may discover new types of outdoor allergens. Pack medications in your carry-on to be prepared for different climates and environments. If you plan to do some sightseeing by car, keep the windows rolled up to avoid trapping pollen inside.

Ready or Not – Here We Come!

Sometimes allergy attacks occur despite your best efforts. An attack may include repetitive sneezing, itchy, watery eyes itchy or congested itchy nose and throat. All of these make you feel miserable. It is a good idea to have a handy stash of tissues, eye drops, and a bottle of water in case of a hacking coughing fit. If you have asthma, carry your inhaler and other medications your doctor prescribes. Make a hasty retreat indoors and treat your symptoms as soon as you are able.