The warm days of summer are winding down in August. If you have summer allergies, the end of summer might seem like a welcome relief. However, the end of summer doesn’t mark the end of allergy season.
Glass pollen is still abundant during August, and weed pollen season is just starting during the end of summer and the start of fall. Keep reading for an overview of the causes of allergies in August, the potential symptoms, and the best long-term treatment options.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also called seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, are the result of an immune system response to an allergen. The body mistakes the allergen for a harmful substance and produces antibodies to fight it off. This immune system response causes symptoms such as itching, congestion, and sneezing.
Typically, allergic rhinitis worsens in the spring and summer when pollen levels are at their highest, but seasonal allergies can also cause symptoms throughout the fall and winter depending on the climate you live in.
What Causes Summer Allergies in August?
During August, grasses and weeds can cause seasonal allergies. Some summer grasses are still releasing pollen during August, although the pollen concentration may be lower than earlier in the year. Weed pollen also causes issues in August, since August marks the beginning of the weed pollen season.
Although ragweed is the main culprit of weed pollen allergies, other weeds also cause allergies. Even if ragweed is not a problem in your area, there are several other types of pollen you should be prepared to deal with.
Grass Pollen Allergies
Grass pollen allergies affect many people in the US, and they occur when you inhale pollen spread through the air. Most grass species release pollen into the air during late spring and summer. Since pollen is so light, wind can carry pollen across tens of miles, making it difficult to avoid.
Different grass species can trigger your allergies. The most common grass allergies are due to the following grass types:
- Sweet vernal
You can be allergic to pollen from a single grass species or multiple types of grasses. Allergy testing will help you determine the exact type of grass you are allergic to.
Weed Pollen Allergies
Various weed species release pollen into the air from late summer to early winter. The pollen can spread a long way, especially during dry, windy days. So even if there’s no weed in your area, you can still suffer from weed pollen allergies in August.
You will be exposed to pollen from weeds in different areas, such as roadsides, gardens, construction sites, parks, and cities.
The most common weed allergies are due to the following:
- Russian thistle
When Is Ragweed Season?
Ragweed is one of the biggest contributors to weed pollen allergies. August is the typical start of the ragweed pollen season, which continues until early winter. You'll find ragweed almost everywhere in the US, making limiting exposure difficult even when there's no ragweed in your area.
A single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains per season. With such a high pollen concentration in the air, it’s difficult to avoid exposure.
Common Summer Allergy Symptoms
Summer allergy symptoms can usually feel like you have a summer cold. They range from mild to severe and can last as long as you are exposed to your allergy trigger, which can be weeks or even months.
The most common summer allergies symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, throat, or roof of the mouth
- Postnasal drip
- Shortness of breath
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult with an allergist.
How Are Summer Allergies Diagnosed?
If you think you might be experiencing allergy symptoms, it’s important to get tested. Doing so will give you a confirmed diagnosis and help you find long-term allergy relief. Testing can be done through a skin prick test or an at-home allergy test.
Skin Prick Test
When most people think of allergy testing, they think of the skin prick test. A skin prick test involves an allergist pricking or scraping patients' skin with a needle tipped with various allergens.
After scraping the skin, the allergist observes the patient for signs of an allergic reaction, such as itchiness, redness, or swelling. If your body reacts with one or all of these signs, you're likely allergic to that specific substance.
Skin prick testing can be a time-consuming and uncomfortable approach to allergy testing. Identifying an allergist and booking an appointment alone can take several weeks to months. Not only will you have to take this test in person at an allergist’s office, but you’ll have to deal with itchy hives afterward if you end up being allergic to one of the allergens you were exposed to during the test.
At-Home Allergy Test
Unlike skin prick tests, at-home allergy testing kits are more user-friendly and pain-free. Here's how they work:
- Order Wyndly's at-home allergy test online. Our CLIA-certified tests are shipped directly to your doorstep.
- Take the allergy test and send it back to us. It just takes one quick finger prick test to provide a blood sample. Then, you'll mail it back when you're done.
- Receive your personalized treatment plan. Our doctor will interpret your test results, develop an allergy profile, and then meet with you to discuss your personalized treatment plan. An allergy test can reveal the full breadth of your allergies. This way, you know exactly what you're allergic to and how you can treat your symptoms.
An at-home allergy test is a comfortable, simple solution that gives you an in-depth understanding of your environmental and seasonal allergies.
How to Prepare for Summer Allergy Season?
Throughout August, it's important to take steps to prepare for the upcoming fall allergy season. Simple habits like showering or cleaning more frequently can go a long way. Adopting such habits will help you to minimize your symptoms.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Keep windows closed and use A/C: Pollen travels through the air with ease. Ensure it doesn't float its way into your house by keeping windows closed and running the A/C. You’ll also want to think about equipping your A/C with a HEPA filter to further purify the air inside your home.
- Check pollen counts: Before heading outdoors, look at the local pollen count. If it's high, wear a dust mask or sunglasses to protect yourself from exposure.
- Shower after being outside: Pollen can cling to your hair and skin after being outside. To avoid bringing it into your home, take a shower as soon as you come inside.
- Wash clothes: Because pollen can stay on fabric, it's important to wash your clothes after spending time outside. So, be sure to toss clothes in the wash as soon as you can.
- Take your shoes off when you come inside: Pollen can also accumulate on your shoes. To avoid tracking it throughout your home, take them off as soon as you come inside.
- Wipe pets down: When your pet goes outside, they can be exposed to pollen and bring it back in with them. To avoid spreading it, wipe your pet down with a wet cloth when they come back inside. Giving them more baths during the allergy season can also be helpful.
How to Treat Seasonal Allergies in August?
Limiting exposure can be a great way to limit your chances of experiencing allergies. However, at some point, you will likely come into contact with your allergy trigger. It's important to have an effective treatment plan in place in addition to taking measures to reduce exposure.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are an accessible and affordable way to temporarily manage mild to moderate allergy symptoms.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines work by temporarily blocking histamine, a chemical that your body releases in response to an allergic trigger. This relieves symptoms like itchiness, sneezing, and a runny nose.
- Eye drops: If you tend to experience red, watery, or itchy eyes with allergies, then eye drops can provide you with short-term relief from these symptoms.
- Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays clear pollen and other allergens from your nasal passages and reduce inflammation. This relieves symptoms like congestion.
If OTC options aren’t working, or you want a long-term solution, sublingual immunotherapy might be right for you.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a type of allergy treatment that results in long-term relief from your symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy involves placing drops or tablets of an allergen extract under your tongue daily. Over time, your immune system becomes desensitized and you stop reacting when exposed to allergens.
SLIT is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional allergy shots. It's just as effective, less invasive, and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
Seasonal allergies are no fun for anyone, but you don’t have to put up with them. If you're looking for a long-term solution, sublingual immunotherapy could be the answer. At Wyndly, our allergy doctors will create a personalized treatment plan to help you beat your allergies.
Take our quick survey today to see how Wyndly can help you live an allergy-free life!