How to Avoid Allergy & Asthma Triggers at Outdoor BBQs

Summer Triggers: Pollen, Smoke, Mold, Bugs, and Fragrance

Most people spend more time outside in the summer than in any other season. Outdoor cookouts, picnics, and pool parties are fun to get together with family and friends while enjoying the beautiful weather.

However, if you have allergies or asthma, you could spend more time sneezing, blowing your nose, and using your inhaler than soaking up the time with your loved ones. So while you should always carry quick-relief medications just in case, the key to enjoying yourself at outdoor BBQs is to avoid your allergy and asthma triggers. Here’s how:

Steer Clear of Smoke from Grills or Fire Pits

Grilling is a fun, healthy way to prepare food in the summer. It also prevents heating your house on hot afternoons. Unfortunately, combustion pollutants from BBQs, bonfires, and fire pits can trigger an asthma attack. Even gas grills and fire pits can be problematic.

If you’re hosting the cookout, position the grill as far as possible from where your guests will gather. If you’re attending an event at someone else’s home, pay attention to which way the wind is blowing so you can steer clear of smoke and fumes.

Avoid Pollen Exposure

While flower and tree pollen peak in the springtime, grass pollen remains a common allergy trigger all summer. Then, ragweed pollen becomes an issue late in the season. Common symptoms of pollen exposure include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

If you have a pollen allergy, check pollen counts before heading outdoors. If you choose to venture out, wear sunglasses and a hat to help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair. When the outdoor event is over, change your clothes and plan to shower before bed.

Manage Mold Exposure

Pollen isn’t the only environmental allergy and asthma trigger you’re likely to face at an outdoor BBQ. Mold on rotting logs, compost heaps, and damp outdoor furniture may also threaten your chances of having fun.

If you’re the event host, you can take steps to prevent and remove mold outdoors, such as applying a mold protectant to vulnerable surfaces and improving drainage on your property. If you’re a party guest and your mold allergy symptoms worsen, take your prescribed medication, or consider excusing yourself.

Prevent Insect Bites and Stings

No one wants insects at an outdoor party, but they’re almost certain to attend anyway. Not only are bugs a nuisance, but they can also be a dangerous threat to people with insect allergies. Bites and stings from certain pests can even cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that blocks the airway and makes breathing difficult.

If you know you have severe reactions to stings from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, fire ants, or mosquitoes, bring an epinephrine auto-injector to the BBQ. If you’re hosting the get-together, tidy up the landscape and eliminate standing water to avoid attracting bugs. If you’re a guest, wear close-toed shoes in the yard, keep your sugary drink covered, and avoid wearing flowery perfume.

Stay Away from Scented Products

Many bug repellents, such as scented candles and tiki torch oil, can trigger asthma in sensitive individuals. Strong perfumes and odor-hiding air fresheners are also common asthma triggers.

Steer clear of scented items as much as possible. If a product is bothering you, consider asking the host to remove it. Also, bring a mask to wear to the bathroom in case of others before you have sprayed fragrances.

Read Sunscreen Labels

Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn, premature wrinkles, and skin cancer. Some people even experience an allergic reaction called solar urticaria, developing a rash or hives on skin exposed to sunlight. It’s beneficial to wear sunscreen whether or not you have solar urticaria, but you might also be allergic to your sunscreen.

Benzophenone, octocrylene, and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) are the chemicals most likely to cause contact dermatitis from wearing sunscreen. Opt for a natural product that doesn’t contain these ingredients to protect yourself from the sun’s rays without developing a rash or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Skip the Fireworks

Fireworks have become a part of many summer holidays and celebrations. Unfortunately, they release smoke and small particulate matter that can trigger asthma. Fireworks are also a safety hazard and can spark fires.

Avoid launching your own fireworks this summer. Instead, if you attend a professional show, enjoy the display from farther away or even indoors, if possible.

Are you struggling to control your asthma and allergy symptoms this summer? You may need a new treatment plan. Rely on the physicians and board-certified allergists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists to provide optimal care. If you’re ready to breathe easier this summer, please call (866) 966-0583 and request an appointment at one of eight convenient office locations in the Philadelphia area.