Tips for Staying Allergy-Free Over the 4th of July

by Kathi MacNaughton Health Professional

Follow these tips to stay healthy over the 4th of July, so you can enjoy all your planned outdoor activities.

Allergy Triggers Are Lurking in All the Fun Places

Attending an outdoor barbecue with family and friends? If so, watch out that you don't get too close to the barbecue where you can inhale charcoal lighter fluid fumes or smoke. Same goes for a campfire. Smoke can be a powerful irritant that can set off or worsen eye and nasal allergy symptoms as well as asthma symptoms.

If you intend to sit on the grass and watch the local fireworks show, grass pollen might get you. Bring along some goodies to snack on while you wait for dark to fall and stinging insects might decide to join the party. And trailing smoke from the fireworks themselves can cause problems for especially sensitive people too.

If you have food allergies, eating foods at picnics and other holiday celebrations can put you at risk too, unless you're sure you know every single ingredient that went into the preparation of each dish.

Even balloons from the balloon vendor at the fireworks show can trigger latex allergies in sensitive people. The dangers are all around you, so you have to be vigilant and know where to look for them.

Head Those Pesky Triggers Off at the Pass

I'm not going to advise you not to do any of the activities you have planned for Independence Day. Where's the fun in that? Besides, I know you probably won't take that advice anyway.

So, instead let's look at how we can manage the risk to minimize your allergy symptoms during the holiday activities.

  1. First, take your allergy medicine. That is your best defense for the whole summer. Start taking your medicine before your symptoms spiral out of control, and keep taking it until you're sure you won't be exposed to your triggers any more. If nothing else, take an antihistamine an hour or two before you plan to come into contact with any triggers, such as grass.

  2. Second, avoid contact with grass pollen as much as you can. Complete avoidance isn't realistic, if you plan to be at a backyard barbecue or watching the fireworks at the park. Still, you can wear a mask if grass pollen is blowing around, or sit in a chair, rather than right on the grass. (Pollen can travel for hundreds of miles, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, so you don’t have to be in direct contact with grass for grasspollen to bother you.)

  3. Don't look like a flower to stinging insects. If you're allergic to stinging insects such as wasps or honeybees, first off avoid the places where they hang out. But second, don't make yourself a target. Avoid wearing brightly-colored or flowered clothing & forgo the perfume or scented body wash/shampoo.

  4. Axe food allergy anaphylaxis. Food allergies can quickly derail your holiday fun, but it doesn't have to be that way. The safest action is probably to only eat food you have prepared or brought to the party. If you do eat others' foods, though, be sure you thoroughly investigate what went into the food. And always have an epinephrine autoinjector with you just in case.

These are just a few of the things you can do this weekend to stay healthy and safe. You can probably think of others, depending on what your allergy triggers are.

Kathi  MacNaughton
Meet Our Writer
Kathi MacNaughton

Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she's been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.