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What Types of Allergens Cause Summer Allergies?

What Types of Allergens Cause Summer Allergies?

Spring, during which numerous different types of trees release allergenic pollen into the air, may be a notorious allergy season, but it is certainly not the only one. Have you developed tell-tale allergy symptoms — sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and maybe even fatigue and headache — in the middle of the summer? Has someone who is important to you, like your child? Your first thought may be that those allergy symptoms are arriving a few months too late. Keep in mind, however, that “hay fever” (allergic rhinitis) was originally called that because its timing was associated with hay cutting season, which occurs in summer.

Plenty of airborne allergens can make you suffer during the summer, and figuring out what is causing the discomfort is key to your action plan. Once you know what allergens you are likely reacting to, you will, after all, be able to take steps to limit your exposure.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies During the Summer?

So-called wind-pollinated plants are the most common offenders when it comes to seasonal allergies. When these plants release the tiny and light-weight pollen they rely on to reproduce, the pollen is easily carried far and wide even by a gentle breeze. It can remain suspended in the air you breathe for many hours, provoking a range of mild to severe allergy symptoms in those people who are sensitive to these allergens.

Tree pollen, like pollen produced by birch and poplar trees, reaches the highest concentrations in the springtime. The fact that most people who live with airborne allergies react most strongly to tree pollen explains why seasonal allergies have grown to be almost synonymous with spring. Depending on the climate, however, some trees may begin to release pollen late during the winter, as well as into early summer. It is not impossible that you are allergic to tree pollen if you have allergy symptoms during the summer.

Grass and weed pollen is, however, the most likely cause of pollen-related allergies during the summer. Ryegrass and timothy grass are just two examples of grasses that may be making you miserable.

Late in summer, allergens more typically associated with the fall, like ragweed, can already start bothering you.

Beyond Seasonal Allergies: What Other Allergens Should Be on Your Radar?

Seasonal allergies may be talked about a lot, but pollen isn’t the only possible cause of allergies that occur in summer. Those allergies that occur year-round are called perennial allergies, and there is no shortage of possible allergens — from the pet dander that is especially likely to bother you if you have a pet in your home, but that may also find its way inside from the environment, to pests like cockroaches and rodents.

People who are typically symptom-free during other seasons but begin sneezing and sniffling when the summer comes along, or those who have just started to develop allergy symptoms in summer recently, should, however, pay particular attention to two common allergens.

Dust mites are present in detectable levels in many homes. Although far from everyone develops allergy symptoms after being exposed to high dust mite concentrations, living in a home that has a lot of dust mites can cause you to become sensitized over time. Because dust mites thrive in highly humid conditions, and the relative humidity levels will often rise within your home during the hottest months of the year, allergy symptoms that strike in summer and instantly grow more intense when you arrive home could easily be caused by dust mites. You will not see dust mites, since they are almost microscopic in size, and your allergy symptoms may be the only clue that your home has a dust mite problem.

Mold is another common allergen. Tens of thousands of unique mold species are present all over the natural environment, where they help to break down decaying organic matter. Like pollen, mold spores, too, have a “season” of sorts. Outside, various types of mold begin to proliferate again in spring after being mostly dormant during the coldest months. Summer is, on the other hand, when mold spore concentrations outdoors are highest. Anyone who develops allergy symptoms after spending time in the woods or gardening may just have a mold allergy.

Mold is, additionally, a widespread problem indoors. In some cases, mold spores in the air — which tend, remember, to be highest in concentration in summer — can settle down on a suitable surface and begin causing visible growths within 24 hours. If your home has humidity levels above 50 percent during the summer, a mold infestation somewhere on your property could be responsible for your summer allergy symptoms.

How Can You Find Out What You Are Allergic To?

Almost everyone is familiar with the most common symptoms that point to airborne allergies:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Eye-related discomforts like itching, swelling, watery eyes, and redness
  • A sore throat
  • Sinus pressure and related ear discomforts

Allergies can also make you feel tired. They can cause wheezing, a whistling sound as you breathe, and shortness of breath. Some people suffer from allergy-related headaches, and others have coughing fits. Skin rashes are also fairly common.

If you are allergic to something, you’re probably aware that you are dealing with an allergy. Finding out the cause is more difficult. Only a doctor, and ideally an allergist, can diagnose the cause of your  allergies, by carrying out blood tests or skin prick tests.

Knowing what allergens you are sensitive to you is important, as it will help you take steps to avoid them.

What General Steps Can You Take to Limit Exposure to Allergens Indoors?

To minimize discomfort caused by allergens present within your home, you can do more than take medications. You can also:

  • Vacuum and dust frequently, and even daily, to minimize the buildup of allergen-containing dust within your home.
  • Eliminate unnecessary fabrics, within which allergens easily build up, within your home. Do you have wall-to-wall carpets? Getting rid of them may make you feel a lot better. Also consider investing in dust mite covers and washable covers for couches and upholstered chairs, however.
  • Install a true HEPA air purifier, which is effectively able to filter over 99 percent of harmful airborne particles, including those that provoke allergic reactions, from the air.

Do You Need a Mold Inspection?

Many people assume that mold is only a problem in old and poorly-maintained buildings, but that simply is not the case. Mold is a shockingly common problem within homes, and humidity as well as localized moisture buildup are the strongest risk factors. In properties where the humidity levels rise above 50 percent, which is especially likely in summer, a mold infestation could only be a matter of time. The same holds true in homes that were recently exposed to a flood or other water damage, and those with leaky pipes or a leaky roof.

If you have a mold problem, it could be very obvious — you may be overwhelmed not only by allergy symptoms, but also by a strong musty odor when you enter your home or the affected parts of it, like the basement or attic. You may be able to see mold growth easily. A mold infestation can also, on the other hand, be more concealed. While mold builds up along leaky plumbing you did not even know needed to be fixed, completely out of sight, you could be convinced that you are allergic to grass pollen.

The importance of taking swift action if you do believe you could have a mold infestation in your home cannot be underestimated. Not all mold species cause health problems, but those that do can lead to harm that stretches beyond the allergy symptoms you may currently be suffering from. Some molds are toxic, as well, and others have the potential to cause dangerous infections in humans.

By calling MI&T, a trusted nationwide mold inspection only company, you will know whether you have a dangerous mold problem in your home in no time. After our thorough visual inspection, MI&T takes air samples that are analyzed at an independent lab. Alongside asking your doctor for allergy tests, having a mold inspection carried out is one of the best steps you can take to find out what is causing your summer allergies.