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AHH-CHOO! Common Allergy Culprits and How to Avoid Them

July 5, 2017
Published in: General

A woman sneezing with a field of wild flowers behind her

Sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, and hives. These are some of the frustrating symptoms of allergies. We know the signs, but what are the culprits causing such discomfort? A variety of factors cause allergies. It can take a bit of detective work to find the actual source. Here's a rundown of how to identify and avoid those pesky allergy culprits.

Common Allergy Culprits

Finding the source of your allergies helps determine an effective treatment plan. Allergy sufferers can be susceptible to one or many of these common triggers:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Food
  • Animals and Cockroaches
  • Insects
  • Medicines
  • Latex

If you're having trouble identifying your triggers, keep a record of when your symptoms start, the activity you are doing when the symptoms start, and how long your symptoms last.

Kick Your Allergies to the Curb

Bee collecting pollen from a flower

Pollen

Pollen is a greenish-yellow dust that helps plants and trees grow. It's a persistent airborne allergy trigger from spring until fall. In fact, one plant produces billions of pollen grains. It's no wonder pollen can wreak havoc with your allergies.

How to avoid pollen

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high
  • Use an air conditioner instead of opening windows during pollen season
  • Avoid hanging your clothes outside to dry

Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic organisms. They feed on the flakes of skin we shed each day. Dust mites live in carpet, upholstered furniture, pillows, and mattresses. Unfortunately, these unwelcome guests can live in these places year round.

How to avoid dust mites

  • Use dust mite covers on your mattresses and box springs
  • Wash sheets every week in hot water
  • Use hypoallergenic pillows
  • Declutter your home from things that collect dust

Mold

Mold is a medical four-letter word. It can be very dangerous to your health. Mold thrives in damp places both indoors and outdoors. Basements and bathrooms are common areas for mold to grow.

How to avoid mold allergies

  • Repair water damage and leaks
  • Remove indoor plant because damp soil can cause mold
  • Wear a mask when raking leaves or gardening

Animals and Cockroaches

It's hard to imagine living without our beloved pets. However, people can develop allergies to an animal's oil glands and even their saliva. This tricky allergy can take up two years to develop. Surprisingly, cockroaches are another common allergy trigger. If you've ruled out your pet as an allergy culprit, you may be allergic to cockroaches.

How to avoid animal and cockroach allergies

  • Stay away from animals that trigger your allergies
  • Wash your pet weekly
  • Consult your doctor for medications or allergy shots
  • Avoid cockroaches – Keep trash in closed containers and remove promptly

Insect Stings

Nothing ruins a perfectly good day like a painful insect bite. For some, it's an inconvenience, for others it's very dangerous. If you have trouble breathing, feel dizzy, or have extreme swelling seek immediate medical attention.

How to avoid insect bites

  • Don't wear brightly colored clothes
  • Avoid scented lotions
  • Keep your shoes on outside
  • Keep away from outdoor garbage cans
  • Talk to your doctor about allergy shots

Latex

Latex is present in everything from shampoo bottles to medical gloves. Reactions are usually mild causing only itchy skin. However, some people do develop a life-threatening allergy to latex. Seek immediate medical if you have symptoms that compromise your breathing.

How to avoid latex

  • Research products with latex in them and avoid them
  • Alert medical professionals that you are allergic to latex

Food

Family sitting down to eat dinner

Some people are born with food allergies while others develop them over time. Common food allergies are milk, shellfish, nuts, soybeans, wheat, and eggs. Food allergies often produce additional symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. A doctor can do allergy testing to identify your food allergies.

How to avoid food allergies

  • Take note of what foods trigger symptoms and avoid them
  • Carry your doctor prescribed allergy medicines with you at all times

Drugs

Sometimes the very thing that's meant to help us causes us harm. Medicines like penicillin and aspirin can cause allergies in some people. Medicine allergies can show up immediately or after a few days. If you experience serious symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Avoid drug allergies

  • Make a list of all your current meds and when you take them
  • Inform medical professionals about all medicines you are taking
  • Talk with your doctor about any side effects you experience

Allergies symptoms can range from a mild nuisance to a life-threatening condition. It's important to identify your allergy triggers and take steps to avoid them. Speak with your primary care provider or an allergist if you need help.