Uncover Your Allergy Triggers
Allergies are an abnormal response of your immune system. Your body’s defences react to a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. Almost anything can trigger an allergic reaction, which can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. Here are 5 of the most common triggers.
Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. You might have symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. Treatments include over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. Prevent symptoms by staying inside on windy days when pollen counts are high, closing windows, and running the air conditioning.
This is a magnified view of sunflower pollen.
Dust mites are microscopic organisms that live in house dust. They thrive in high humidity and feed on the dead skin cells of people and pets, as well as on pollen, bacteria, and fungi. Help prevent dust mite allergies by covering mattresses, pillows, and box springs, using hypoallergenic pillows, washing sheets weekly in hot water, and keeping the house free of dust collecting items such as stuffed animals, curtains, and carpet.
Milk, shellfish, eggs, and nuts are among the most common foods that cause allergies. An allergic reaction usually happens within minutes of eating the offending food. Symptoms, which can include breathing problems, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling around the mouth, can be severe. Avoid all foods that you are allergic to. If you’re exposed to them, you may need an epinephrine injection.
Fragrances found in products like perfumes, scented candles, laundry detergent, and cosmetics can cause mild to severe health problems. For most people, symptoms ease up once the scent is gone. For some, repeated exposures cause more symptoms that happen more often and last longer. There’s some question whether fragrance reactions are a true allergy or simply your body’s response to an irritant.
Symptoms of allergies to medications, such as penicillin or aspirin, can range from mild to life-threatening and can include hives, itchy eyes, congestion, and swelling in the face, mouth and throat. It’s best to avoid the drug altogether. But if you’re exposed, your doctor may recommend treating mild symptoms with antihistamines or steroids. For severe allergy symptoms, you may need epinephrine.