When your body is exposed to a substance that your immune system doesn’t recognize, your immune system sends out an alert that an abnormal and threatening element is invading your body. What your immune system is experiencing is its reaction to an allergen you have inhaled or ingested. Allergens, also known as allergy triggers, are found all over the world. Allergens come in several forms including pollen, dust, and food.
If you or your child suffers from allergies, it’s important that you have some understanding of allergens so that you can minimize their impact and avoid them. Following are the most common allergens and how you can combat them.
Pollen is likely one allergen that is almost impossible to avoid as it exists in abundance. Trees, flowers, grasses, weeds and other plants create pollen, making it ubiquitous. Since pollen is light and fluffy, it sticks to clothing, skin, and your pet’s coat from which it transfers to inside the home. People that are allergic to pollen react to it by:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
Combating Pollen Allergy
It’s virtually impossible to successfully avoid pollen completely, but, when pollen counts are high, limit your outdoor activities. Try Allergy Forecast, a free tool that tells you anticipated pollen counts for the next four days.
Use allergy protection inside your home. Devices include HEPA filters and air cleaners on your AC system.
Over-the-counter medications are usually effective for mild to moderate allergies. You can try antihistamines and some allergy sufferers have found success with OTC nasal sprays. However, it’s important to check in with your doctor to ensure you are on the right path to your allergy relief. An allergist is happy to walk you through thorough allergy relief and set up a regimen for you.
The symptoms of dust allergies are the same as those for pollen allergies with the addition of itching as another symptom. But, dust allergy sufferers can find relief outside. Folks suffering from a dust allergy are apt to be affected most in their home or in other people’s homes. While vacuuming would seem to be an effective way to fight dust, symptoms often worsen following dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming. This happens because, during cleaning, dust particles are stirred up which makes them easier to inhale.
Dust Allergy Triggers
Triggers for dust allergy sufferers include:
- Dust mites
- Pet fur, dander, or feathers
How to Treat and Manage Dust Allergies
While OTC medication can help keep you comfortable during an allergy attack, avoiding an attack is even better. By making some changes to your house and lifestyle you can keep dust allergies at bay. Here’s how:
- Remove wall to wall carpeting, especially in bedrooms
- Keep pets out of bedrooms
- Keep household humidity low
- Frequently wash bed linens in hot water and change them often
- Use “mite-proof” cases for pillows and mattresses
- Use a high-efficiency media filter in your air conditioning and heating unit
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4% of adults and 4-6% of children are victims of food allergies. While food allergies are most prevalent in babies and children they can appear at any age. In fact, foods that you never reacted to before may suddenly trigger an allergic reaction. Only 8 kinds of food cause ninety percent of all food allergies. They are:
- Tree nuts
Food Allergy Symptoms
Few symptoms of food allergies have anything in common with dust or pollen allergies. Allergic reactions might involve the skin, the respiratory tract, the cardiovascular system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies become apparent when one or more of the following symptoms occur:
- Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
- Vomiting with or without stomach cramps
- Repetitive cough
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Weak pulse
- Swelling of the tongue negatively impacting the ability to speak or breathe
- Pale or blue-tinged skin
- Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect various parts of the body (for example, a stomachache accompanied by a rash)
Once a food allergy is diagnosed, avoiding the problem food is the best treatment. But, people with a food allergy may be susceptible to only one tree nut or to many tree nuts, likewise for shellfish and other food categories. People with food allergies should see an allergist and develop an in-depth food allergy management plan.
Experience Allergy Relief in Charlotte
For additional information about allergy treatment and prevention, contact us at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. We have 15 locations within and near Charlotte, NC staffed with allergists who are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. To schedule an appointment for an allergy consultation in Charlotte or to find the nearest office, call us today: 704-980-8855.