Image of bee and pollen, two common summertime allergens

Summertime means lots of outdoor activities, exercise, sun, heat, sand, surf, BBQ’s, travel, and plenty of fun.

However, it can be a challenging time for those folks who have asthma or allergies. Without proper education and prevention strategies, these conditions could put a damper on your summer vacation plans.

Who knew that some common summertime activities like swimming, sitting around the campfire, eating summer produce, and extreme heat and humidity can all trigger an asthma or allergy attack? And what about getting stung by one of those summertime pests like a yellow jacket, wasp, hornet, fire ant, or honeybee? Did you know that any of these could actually put your life in danger? Knowing about these things and being prepared for them can actually save your life or the life of someone you love, and keep your vacation plans on the right track.

Roasting marshmallows for s’mores around the campfire can trigger an asthma attack. Remember to sit upwind from the smoke, and don’t get too close or exposed to it. And remember to always take your asthma meds regularly to prevent them from occurring.

Hot and humid weather is also a wonderful breeding ground for dust mites and mold. These can trigger an attack, so be wary. Also sudden changes in temperature can trigger attacks too, so avoid extreme temperature, and take your medications as directed.

You may be allergic to stinging insects. If at any time you are experiencing difficulty breathing or speaking, do not delay. Please call 911 immediately. Anaphylaxis is deadly if not treated rapidly!

The smell of chlorine from a pool can irritate your mucus membranes, eyes, and lungs, possibly ending in an asthma attack. If it’s too strong or potent, find another place to swim, or try the beach.

Delicious summer fruits and veggies can cause oral allergy syndrome for some people. If your lips and tongue begin to tingle after eating a juicy fruit like a peach, apple, or melon, you are experiencing this. Usually it is a mild syndrome, however, if you are having difficulty breathing or speaking, call 911 and get to the hospital immediately as some people can experience anaphylaxis in severe cases.

Dr. Ernest Patti is a senior emergency medicine physician at SBH Health System and a professor at the new CUNY School of Medicine.

Dr. Patti’s tips for making your summer a Real Breeze:

Consider getting allergy tested. Speak to your doctor and share what you think you are allergic to. And remember to take your asthma and allergy medications regularly.

Do your best to avoid pollen. Keep windows and doors closed during peak times, remove your “outside clothes” when coming inside, and shower or bathe before going to bed. Change air and AC filters periodically.

Keep your indoor humidity low. Keep your temp cool, and do errands early in the day or at dusk to avoid the stifling heat and humidity.

Check the Air Quality Index. Be sure to follow its guidelines. This is especially important for the elderly, infants, and those with chronic cardiorespiratory conditions.

Do your best to protect your skin. Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, sun protection, insect repellent, and common sense to enjoy your summertime activities.

Quit smoking for good. Use the summertime to make a commitment to stop smoking for good! You will enjoy your summertime activities much more if you do.



Dr. Ernest Patti