Potential Sources That May Be Causing Your Allergies

Allergies—most people know when they have them and can recognize the telltale signs: sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes. Allergies aren’t fatal, but they can often be very annoying. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, they may even have a serious impact on your everyday life. Most people try to diagnose and then fight the symptoms of their allergies, which is a good start. But have you ever considered that common, everyday objects around you may be the culprit? Finding out what exactly you’re allergic to may not be as difficult or elusive as you think. Here are eight common allergens that you can find everyday around the house or outside.

Pollen

Pollen allergies are one of the most common types of allergies. Also known as seasonal allergies or hay fever, pollen allergy symptoms typically arise each spring. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, itching eyes, and fatigue. Doctors can detect a pollen allergy through a skin or blood test, but oftentimes testing isn’t needed. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about pollen allergies, either. Besides limiting your time outdoors when the pollen count is high, you can try taking an over-the-counter allergy medicine or frequently changing your clothes, especially after you’ve been outside, and cleaning the house and carpet more regularly.

Mold

If you have outdoor allergy symptoms that go beyond the spring season, you could be allergic to mold. Mold allergies can look very similar to seasonal allergies, but tend to be year-round instead of seasonal.

People who are allergic to mold can be sensitive to either indoor or outdoor mold types. Allergic reactions occur when mold is distributed and spores are sent flying into the air. Molds live everywhere so there isn’t much that you can do for outdoor mold, other than wearing a face mask. For indoor mold, try using the air conditioner to reduce the humidity in the house. This will discourage mold growth. You can also look for indoor air filters and HVAC attachments.

Food

Food allergies are one of the most common causes of allergy triggers. Up to 85 million Americans are impacted by food allergies. There are about as many different types of food allergies as there are types of food, but common allergens include wheat, diary, soy, and nuts. When it comes to food allergies it can be very difficult to narrow down the offending ingredients.

Food allergy symptoms can range from hives to irritated throat and depend a lot on what is causing the allergic reaction. Doctors can usually diagnose food allergies through a skin or blood test.

Pets

Pets, and more specifically pet dander, can be a major culprit of allergy symptoms. The most common type of pet allergy is to dogs or cats. Most people will find out whether they’re allergic or not when they touch the animal and then make contact with their eyes or nose.

Fortunately for all, pet allergies have a fairly easy remedy. For those that still want a pet but have allergic reactions to contend with, there are both allergy-friendly dogs and cats. There are many breeds of dogs with different allergen levels. So a sneeze-free existence with a pet may be possible after all.

Medications

People don’t always think about medicine as being a culprit, but the truth is that many people are allergic to various medications that are commonly prescribed. Symptoms of medication allergies can be similar to food allergy symptoms. Signs of a medication allergy can include skin rash or hives, itching, swelling, or trouble breathing.

Like food allergies, allergic reactions to medications can be quite dangerous especially if undiagnosed. If you think you’re suffering from medication allergy symptoms, seek medical help right away.

Dust Mites

Dust mite allergy symptoms are similar to pollen allergy symptoms: sneezing, itching, runny nose, coughing. Some of the key differences, however, are that people with dust allergies tend to be irritated all year long and tend to suffer more inside the house than out.

Dust mites are tiny insects found inside people’s homes. They feed off of dust and moisture inside the home. Somewhat ironically, cleaning your house can often make dust symptoms worse. This is because cleaning, such as dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping, often stirs up the dust mites and makes them easier to inhale. To keep dust mites at bay, avoid carpeted homes and keep the humidity in your own house low. You can also wear a mask when cleaning.

Chemicals

Common household cleaners and chemicals may not be a direct cause of an allergic reaction, but what many people don’t realize is that many cleaning chemicals can make allergy symptoms worse. Sodium laureth sulfate, often used as a detergent in soaps and cosmetics, can irritate skin in people with eczema or other conditions. Ammonia, also used as a disinfecting agent, can cause burns and irritation as well. And formaldehyde, found in cosmetics and even baby powder, can cause eye and skin irritation as well. Nowadays, there are many nature-based alternatives on the market when it comes to cleaning products. Or, you can always make your own cleaners with less irritating agents.

Bug Bites

Technically, bug bites and stings are a symptom of a small allergic reaction, not the allergy itself.

The classic mosquito bite is an example. Red, skin, swelling, itching and burning are all telltale signs of an allergic reaction. Occasionally people have more serious reactions to bug stings and bites, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, or difficulty breathing. To treat bug bites, you can take an over-the-counter antihistamine or try using an anti-itch cream. If you’re experiencing any of the more serious allergic reaction symptoms, seek medical attention right away. 

If you are experiencing chronic allergy symptoms such as swelling, itching, and a runny nose, you may need to start examining your lifestyle. Taking a closer look at common allergens and comparing notes with your own exposure may help you to find the culprit. And fortunately for all, most allergies can be treated with simple medications.

Read this next: How Has Medication Changed Our Approach to Health?

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