Summertime and the living is easy – unless you are allergic to insect stings or have asthma that can be aggravated by the summer smog season.
While outdoor activities are important for physical fitness and a big part of summer fun, the specialists at the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic warn that people with allergies and asthma need to exercise caution and follow their doctors’ recommendations to avoid potentially life-threatening reactions.
Dr. Linda Guydon, of the Johns Creek office, says, “Proper diagnosis and specialized testing by a board-certified allergist allows individuals to identify and treat their allergies and asthma and avoid serious, even fatal, allergic reactions.”
Insect stings are more prevalent during the warm summer months. It is important to note that anyone who has experienced an allergic reaction in the past has a 65 percent chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again. If you experience a significant allergic reaction of any kind, consult a board-certified allergist as soon as possible.
Once the diagnosis of an insect sting allergy is confirmed, the most effective treatment is a combination of insect venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) and avoiding exposure to insects. Venom immunotherapy is 95 percent effective in preventing future allergic reactions.
If you are allergic to one or more insect stings, always carry an Epinephrine auto-injector to protect yourself. This is a device that can stop a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction.
To reduce the chance of a sting, Dr. Guydon recommends the following tips:
- Avoid walking barefoot in the grass, where stinging insects forage.
- Avoid drinking from open soft drink cans, which stinging insects are attracted to and will crawl inside of.
- Keep food covered when eating outdoors.
- Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes, hairsprays, and deodorants.
- Avoid wearing bright colored clothing with flowery patterns.
- Avoid areas where stinging insects are swarming.
Insects aren’t the only concern for dampening summer fun. For the more than 25 million Americans that have asthma, the summer smog season can also pose problems. Not only do allergies trigger asthma (almost 80 percent of children with asthma have allergies as an underlying trigger), but smog can also aggravate this condition. Dr. Guydon says that an allergist’s goal is to have the patient’s asthma under control, and that following your allergists’ asthma management plan, especially during smog season, is very important. However, in the event an attack is triggered, carrying an emergency inhaler is critical. Avoiding contact with environmental pollutants can reduce the possibility of suffering an asthma attack. Dr. Guydon offers the following tips:
- Avoid traveling and being outdoors during peak commuting times.
- Exercise indoors.
- Keep car windows closed.
- If you have an attached garage, don't start the car and let it run—fumes can make their way into the home even when the garage door is open.
- Avoid smoke, dirt, gases, and other pollutants that can trigger asthma flare-ups.
Summertime is one of the best, most fun times of the year. Following these guidelines will help ensure you spend it enjoying it however you like, and not suffering from your allergies or asthma.
Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic is the largest allergy practice in Georgia. Its board certified allergists and specially trained nurse practitioners are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic, asthmatic, and immunologic diseases. Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic is the only National Allergy Bureau certified pollen counting station in the Atlanta area. Go to www.AtlantaAllergy.com for daily updates.