Summer advice for allergy and asthma sufferers

Summer's arrival means getting outside for some fun in the sun. Whether hiking, camping or gardening, allergy and asthma sufferers can manage symptoms by taking the proper precautions, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

"Allergic diseases affect more than 20% of the U.S. population and outdoor allergies are especially troublesome in early summer when trees and grass release their pollen and weeds begin to grow," said John J. Costa MD, an allergist/immunologist in Boston, MA and fellow of the AAAAI. The AAAAI offers tips on how to enjoy your summer outdoors with allergies and asthma.

Camping
Summer kicks off the start of camping season for kids and families everywhere. There is nothing like a gooey s'more, ghost stories around the fire and canoeing with friends. But before heading outdoors for your camping trip this summer, learn what you can do to avoid allergy and asthma triggers lurking outdoors and in the wilderness.

  • Air out your equipment before you leave, look for mold in tents and tarps and wash off any you see with a hot water and bleach solution.
  • Bring along your allergy and/or asthma medication, so you are prepared for any trigger that may cross your path.
  • Remember to pack food that is friendly to people with food allergies, check with your group to see what people are allergic to and do not bring that item.
  • Check out your camp site for ragweed, poison oak or poison ivy and other plants that may cause allergic reactions. Bring ointments and medications just in case.
  • When building a fire, make sure that people who have asthma sit farther away and out of the wind so the smoke does not irritate their lungs.

Bee-ware of insects
Summer is also the time of year when people are stung by bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets or fire ants. Most people will experience temporary redness, swelling and itching at the site of the sting. But for people allergic to stinging insects, their immune systems will overreact to the venom injected by the insects resulting in severe reactions. Follow these tips to avoid stinging insects:

  • Keep away. Stay out of the "territory" of stinging insects' nests.
  • Hire a trained exterminator to destroy hives and nests around your home.
  • If you encounter flying insects, remain calm and quiet, and move slowly. Do not "swat" them.
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing and heavy scented perfume when outdoors.
  • Keep all food covered until eaten.
  • Insects are attracted to trash containers; keep these areas clean and keep them away from your area of activity.

Exercise-induced asthma
Summer is a great time to get outside and bike, swim or run, even for people with exercise-induced asthma. Follow these tips to help you control your exercise-induced asthma this summer.

  • Always warm up before your workout - light jogging and stretching before you start
  • Always cool down after working out - easy walking and stretching after your activity
  • Try not to exercise outside when pollen counts are high, this could aggravate your asthma - check out the NAB Web site for pollen counts in your area, www.aaaai.org/nab
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take breaks during your exercising
  • Always bring your inhaler with you

See your allergist/immunologist
Whether you are heading to camp for the week or planning a trip to the beach this summer, don't take a vacation from visiting your allergist/immunologist. An allergist/immunologist will help you enjoy your summer by providing you with an effective management plan for your allergies and asthma. To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about asthma and allergies, call the AAAAI Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.

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