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Summertime Allergy-Induced Asthma

Dealing with Seasonal Allergic Asthma


Updated: September 3, 2008

Timothy grass pollen

Timothy grass pollen is one type of pollen that may trigger summer allergies

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
People who have summertime allergy-induced asthma often feel miserable at the time of year when they want to be outside the most. As the days of summer arrive, school lets out, and much-anticipated vacations finally begin, you're dealing with sneezing, wheezing and coughing once again. Summer allergies can put a real crimp in your style.

Some allergy-induced asthma produces problems year round, because it's triggered by substances found in the everyday living environment. Other people only deal with the symptoms at certain times of the year, if they have the outdoor type of allergies, meaning that triggers are commonly found outdoors, rather than indoors. And still others have allergy/asthma symptoms year round but find they get much worse in the summertime, when summer triggers are most present.

Common symptoms of summer allergies and asthma can include:

Kids with asthma and allergies may also have what are known as the allergic salute, where they rub their noses upward because of itching and have allergic shiners, which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion. These are all just the typical symptoms of allergy-induced asthma. Nothing is different in the summer, except that if you are allergic to summer allergens, your symptoms may increase.

Common Summer Allergens or Triggers

The summer season can occur at different times in different parts of the United States and other countries, depending on climate and location. When grasses start to green and grow, though, chances are that summer allergy-induced asthma is about to begin. The most common summer allergens, or triggers, are grass pollens. Pollen are tiny egg-shaped male cells found in flowering plants. You may know pollen better as the tiny, powdery granules that plants use during the fertilization process. The size of a typical pollen spore is smaller in diameter than a human hair.

Many different kinds of grasses can produce pollen that triggers allergies and asthma symptoms. The most common grass allergens include:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bluegrass
  • Orchard grass
  • Red top grass
  • Sweet vernal grass
  • Timothy grass

The grasses mentioned above may or may not all exist in your local area. If any of them do, though, and you are sensitive to their pollens, then you will have summer allergy/asthma symptoms.

Toward the end of summer, around mid-August in most of the United States, weed pollens begin to become a problem. They tend to be at their highest levels during late summer and fall. Some common weed allergens are:

  • Ragweed
  • Cockleweeds
  • Pigweed
  • Russian thistle
  • Sagebrush
  • Tumbleweed

Influencing Factors

The type of pollen that triggers allergies is a lightweight airborne powder. So it is easily spread far and wide on windy days. When it is rainy, though, the rain washes the pollen spores away and pollen counts tend to be lower, which brings relief from symptoms.

How Summer Allergies and Asthma Are Diagnosed

If you notice that your asthma and allergy symptoms crop up — or worsen — during the days of summer, there's a good chance that you have summer allergy-induced asthma. To find out for sure, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor may decide to refer you to an allergist, who can do formal allergy testing to find out exactly what you may be allergic to.
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