How to cope with summer allergies

Ten years ago for my 40th birthday, my wife bought me a nice Martin acoustic guitar. After using it in original bands for years that didn’t make any money, I thought I might venture out on my own and try to bring in some extra cash playing other people’s songs by myself. So far it has been very rewarding, and in some instances, lucrative.

The only drawback is that most of these gigs are outdoors. While the sweltering Houston heat hasn’t bothered me (at least not yet), the pollen and every other type of weed, grass or air pollution certainly has. It seems like every gig I battle a stuffy and runny nose, a scratchy throat, etc. This is not good when you are trying to sing for anywhere between two and four hours at a time.

Millions deal with summer allergies every year, and many things can cause symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, hay fever and the aforementioned scratchy throat and stuffy and runny nose.

Our body’s immune system is built to protect us from viruses, bacteria and parasites, but sometimes it gets confused. When this occurs the body releases chemicals, like histamine, that can trigger an allergic reaction.

The most common triggers are pollen and ragweed. Pollen usually arrives when trees are done pollinating in late spring and the ragweed likes to rear its ugly head in August. While pollen attaches itself to grass and weeds where you live, ragweed can travel hundreds of miles in the wind and trigger allergies. In other words, ragweed in Dallas can get us here in Houston.

Air pollution can also wreak havoc during the summer months. The most common pollutant is ozone, which is caused by a combination of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and the sun. The levels in cities like Houston and Los Angeles are very high during the summer. It’s important to pay attention to local weather reports to see the daily pollen, ragweed counts and ozone levels are each day and if it’s safe for you to be outside on those days.

Common allergy triggers are ragweed, pollen, dust mites and air pollution Click To Tweet

Don’t forget about dust mites. They are those lovely little creatures that we cannot see, but who show up in our house and make themselves at home. They love the summer’s warm, humid temperatures and they live and multiply in places like beds, fabric, carpets and, it seems, every place else.

Dr. Joshua Septimus, an internist with Houston Methodist Hospital, says it’s important to be the aggressor when it comes to dealing with seasonal allergies. For example, if you know you have seasonal allergies, a couple of weeks before you usually experience problems, start taking an over-the-counter, non-sedating, antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, and continue to take them through allergy season. Nasal steroids are also good for people who experience something as simple as a runny nose.

Septimus adds that you should schedule a doctor’s appointment to talk about your symptoms and allergy history. Your doctor may suggest allergy treatments or send you to a specialist who might perform a skin test.

Taking steps to battle your summer allergies will make that trip to the beach or pool or just spending time with your family much more enjoyable.