What do sunny days, vacations, and outdoor fun have in common? Summertime! It's the perfect time to plan an adventure and enjoy the sunshine with family and friends.
But summer can also be an allergy sufferer's worst nightmare. Ragweed and grass pollen are abundant in the summer months, ruining your fun with achy sinuses, stuffy breathing, and annoying coughs. Summer allergies can be just as bad—if not worse—than spring allergies.
Does that mean you’re doomed to spend the summer inside while everyone else is outside enjoying themselves? Not at all! You can manage summer and grass allergies with lifestyle changes, antihistamines, or sublingual immunotherapy.
What Are Summer Allergies?
Roughly 24 million individuals suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis (commonly referred to as hay fever). People with seasonal summer allergies may have symptoms like itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. Asthma sufferers may also experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.
Pollen from grasses and weeds that bloom during the warm months, such as ragweed, cause summer allergies. These allergens are spread by the wind, making them difficult to avoid during a season when so many activities are planned outdoors.
Summer Allergies vs. Spring and Fall Allergies
The main difference between summer allergies and spring or fall allergies is the type of pollen causing your allergic reactions.
In the spring, tree pollen is the primary cause of hay fever symptoms. During summer, grass pollen is more prevalent, with ragweed becoming dominant in the late summer. It’s also responsible for fall allergy flare-ups, along with other weeds.
The other key difference between summer and spring or fall allergies is the weather. Allergies worsen on warm, dry, breezy days because pollen travels through the air. Humidity and rain keep pollen levels down, which makes spring and fall weather more favorable to those with allergies.
If you're unsure what allergens cause your symptoms, an at-home testing kit is a quick, convenient way to learn your unique allergy profile. All it takes is a small finger prick, and our Wyndly allergy specialists do the rest!
10 Tips to Stop Grass Pollen Allergies
Many people find relief from their grass allergy by implementing simple lifestyle changes to reduce exposure and opting for medical treatments to reduce symptoms.
1. Watch Outdoor Pollution and Pollen Levels
Checking the daily pollen and air quality report can help you plan outdoor activities accordingly. If grass pollen or other allergens are high (including mold spores, which thrive in humid weather), it's best to stay inside. You can also use free sites online to look at real-time updates on local pollen counts.
Pro tip: Pollen counts tend to be higher in the mornings, so plan outdoor activities in the evening when you won’t be as bothered.
2. Cover Your Nose and Mouth
Wearing a face mask when you have to be outside (especially when gardening or mowing) can also reduce your allergen exposure. Look for masks with an N95 rating, which means they're designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including pollen, dust, and mold spores.
Pro tip: While an N95 mask is best, a cloth mask or bandana can still help when you can’t avoid allergen exposure.
3. Keep Allergens Outside Your Home
When grass pollen is high, don't open your windows to let in the fresh air. Open windows and doors bring more triggering particles into your home. Pets can also track pollen and other allergens inside, so it's important to bathe them regularly during summer allergy season. The same goes for you! Pollen is sneaky and clings to clothing, shoes, and hair. When you're outside for an extended period, consider changing clothes and showering as soon as you get home.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have time to shower, wash your hands and face, at a minimum, when coming indoors.
4. Use the Power of Air Conditioning
Air conditioners do more than cool your home. They also lower humidity and filter indoor air. For the best filtration, opt for HEPA filters. These filters can remove up to 99% of airborne particles, including pollen, dust mites, and mold spores.
Pro tip: HEPA filters aren’t just for your air conditioner! Add them to your forced-air furnace, air purifiers, and vacuums to reduce indoor allergens year round.
5. Vacuum, Mop, and Tidy Your Home Regularly
Allergens hide in nooks and crannies, so declutter before the summer months to give them fewer places to hang out. Pollen that enters the home may attach to objects only to get stirred into the air later. Get rid of non-essentials, and commit to dusting with a damp cloth weekly. Regular vacuuming and mopping also remove pollen, dust mites, and other allergens from your floors, carpets, and furniture.
Pro tip: When you can, eliminate areas where dust can gather and stick, including upholstered furniture, drapes, and carpeting.
6. Control Pests
Pests like cockroaches, rodents, and dust mites can trigger allergies and exacerbate asthma symptoms. These critters leave droppings that can trigger symptoms and cause asthma attacks. The best way to control pests is to hire a professional exterminator. You can also take preventative measures, like sealing up cracks and crevices in your home and removing food sources (like crumbs and open trash bins) that may attract them.
Pro tip: Regularly check faucets and pipes and fix them as soon you see a problem. Cockroaches are drawn to areas where leaky pipes create moist environments.
7. Try a Supplement
If you're struggling with a grass allergy, you can try a natural supplement like quercetin. This bioflavonoid has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help relieve grass allergy symptoms. Other supplements that might help summer allergies include butterbur, Japanese Benifuuki green tea, and spirulina.
Pro Tip: Before trying any new supplements, talk to your doctor, especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.
8. Fight Back Against Dust Mites
Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in humid environments. They're one of the most common indoor allergens and especially problematic in summer when humidity levels are high. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and are found in bedding, mattresses, and upholstered furniture. To fight back against these microscopic critters, wash your bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week. You can also put your pillows and blankets in the freezer for 24 hours to kill any dust mites that might be lurking.
Pro Tip: To avoid allergens gathering in your bedroom, don’t allow pets or shoes in that space.
9. Use Antihistamines and Prescriptions
Nasal steroid sprays like Flonase or Nasacort and non-sedating antihistamines like Zyrtec or Allegra are types of over-the-counter medications that help manage allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the nose, while antihistamines block histamine, the chemical that causes allergic reactions. Drowsiness, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and dizziness are all possible side effects of antihistamines, so don’t drive until you know how they affect you. Both types of medications are available without a prescription and can be used to temporarily treat and manage summer allergies.
Pro Tip: Allergy medications have a better effect if taken before allergen exposure. If you know you’re going outside, take an antihistamine an hour before you head out.
10. Treat the Root Cause of Allergies with Sublingual Immunotherapy
If you're looking for a long-term solution to your summer allergies, sublingual immunotherapy may be right for you. This treatment involves taking under-the-tongue allergy drops or tablets from the comfort of home instead of at the doctor's office. Sublingual immunotherapy involved exposing your body to small doses of the allergens that cause your symptoms until, over time, you become desensitized. Sublingual immunotherapy is a convenient and effective way to get long-term allergy relief and improve your quality of life. They’re also safe for children and adults.
Pro tip: Take our two-minute assessment to determine if you’re a candidate for immunotherapy.