6 Most Common Allergies: Symptoms and Treatments
FROM SEASONAL ALLERGIES TO DUST – TAKE A LOOK AT ALL OF THE CULPRITS
Allergies are your body’s reaction to normally harmless substances. Many different types of allergies exist. Some of the more common allergies are in response to dust, pets, mold, and pollen. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever, is the most common allergy. Affecting up to 30 percent of the population, this allergy occurs when an individual is exposed to airborne allergens such as pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds.
How our immune system reacts to the triggers varies significantly. When exposed to certain allergens, your body releases histamines that lead to symptoms like watery eyes or a stuffy nose. Identifying what causes an allergic reaction is key to treating it. The good news is that there are various treatments for allergic reactions, such as allergy shots or nasal sprays, that are effective in managing the symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic cites three main types of treatments:
- Allergen avoidance
- Medications–both prescription and OTC
- Allergen Immunotherapy
The 6 Most Common Allergies
Many individuals suffer from an allergy to dust–tiny bits of substances, such as pollen, pet dander, and mold spores suspended in the air or living in bedding or furniture fabrics may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Common dust allergy symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and coughing or wheezing–even leading to asthma attacks or anaphylaxis in extreme cases.
By taking certain preventative measures, those with dust allergies can reduce their exposure to allergens. Synthetic fabrics should be replaced by natural ones; sheets need regular washing; carpets must be vacuumed frequently; windows should remain shut when pollen counts are high outdoors and pets may have to vacate the bedroom if fur triggers an allergic reaction.
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Pet allergies are caused by proteins found in animal saliva, urine, and dander (dead skin cells). These proteins become airborne when animals shed their fur or feathers or lick themselves clean. Allergens from cats tend to be more potent than those from other animals because they stick to surfaces better than other allergens do.
Common symptoms of pet allergies include nasal and ocular irritation such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, and runny nose. Asthma attacks may also occur if you’re particularly sensitive to this allergen present in your home environment. In serious instances, the allergic reaction could result in anaphylaxis.
Managing pet allergies can be challenging. The best way to treat a pet allergy is avoidance; however, this isn’t always possible if you live with a furry friend. If avoidance isn’t possible, then medication such as antihistamines or corticosteroids can be taken to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. However, these medications come with potential side effects so should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Allergy shots have also been known to help build up immunity over time but again these should only be undertaken after consulting with your doctor first.
An air purifier can help reduce allergens in your home without sacrificing any beloved family members, using HEPA filters to capture 99% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size, perfect for trapping pesky pet allergens.
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Mold allergies are a type of allergic reaction caused by exposure to mold spores. The causes of mold allergies vary depending on the individual’s sensitivity level to molds found indoors or outdoors. Mold spores are naturally present in our environment but can become more concentrated when there is an increase in humidity or water damage within homes and buildings.
Mild to severe reactions can manifest as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, runny nose, skin rashes, headaches, and fatigue. In some cases, asthma-like symptoms may develop if left untreated for long periods of time and could lead to difficulty breathing or chest tightness/wheezing.
Treatments for mold allergies typically involve avoiding exposure; however, this is not always feasible. To mitigate symptoms, over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines can be used to reduce inflammation caused by histamine release during an allergic reaction. Alternatively, corticosteroid nasal sprays may be prescribed by a doctor. An air purifier can also help reduce levels of airborne allergens in your home.
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Latex Allergies are an increasingly common medical condition, caused by the body’s reaction to certain proteins found in natural rubber latex. These proteins can be found in a variety of everyday items such as gloves, balloons, condoms, and even some clothing items. People who work in health care or those exposed to multiple types of latex products are at higher risk for developing this allergy.
Latex allergies can cause inflammation and other reactions related to hypersensitivities–for example, tingling, puffiness, and breathing trouble. Signs of latex sensitivity may include skin inflammation–redness; itchiness or hives at the contact area; sneezing; runny nose; watery eyes; coughing and wheezing; or difficulty breathing with a feeling of constriction in throat or chest.
Ingestion may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if someone touches their mouth after touching something containing latex. More severe reactions can include anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
If you suspect that you may have a sensitivity to latex, then it is important to seek out professional advice. Your doctor will be able to diagnose any potential allergies using tests such as skin prick tests or patch testing. Treatment usually involves avoiding any further exposure to products containing natural rubber latex and taking antihistamines for milder reactions like rashes. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed by doctors for more severe reactions.
Skin contact allergies occur when the body has an allergic reaction to something it comes in contact with, such as chemicals or materials like latex or nickel. These reactions can vary from slight discomfort to extreme welts and breakouts.
Symptoms of skin contact allergies include redness, itching, swelling, hives, rash-like bumps on the skin known as dermatitis, and blistering of the affected area. In some cases, a burning or painful sensation might be experienced in conjunction with the other symptoms.
Treatments for skin contact allergies vary depending on the severity of your reaction and the cause. For milder reactions, OTC antihistamines may suffice; however, more severe cases could necessitate prescriptions like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. Additionally, avoiding exposure to whatever is causing your allergy will help prevent future outbreaks from occurring. Skin contact allergies can also be managed with an air purifier, which can help to reduce airborne allergens.
The #1 Most Common Allergy – Seasonal Allergies
By far, seasonal allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever, is the most common allergy. Seasonal allergies from plant and tree pollen affect up to 30 percent of the population and occurs when an individual is exposed to airborne allergens such as pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds. Depending on your specific sensitivity, these allergies can come up in the Spring, Summer or Fall. Winter allergies are possible, but more rare.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies include red eyes, itching, sneezing, and in some cases hives.
Treatments for common pollen allergies include taking antihistamines, showering often to get the pollen off of your hair and clothes, closing the windows in your home and running the A/C, and running an air purifier. There are also simple home remedies for allergy relief, like honey.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SEASONAL ALLERGIES?
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What are examples of common allergens?
Microscopic Organisms AKA Dust Mites:
Dust mites and organisms live in dust and can trigger an allergic reaction.
Tiny particles of skin, fur, or feathers from animals can trigger allergies.
Airborne fungi are common allergens for many people and may lead to respiratory issues if inhaled in large quantities over time.
Small grains released by plants into the air during certain times of year are a major allergen for hay fever sufferers and those with asthma or other breathing difficulties.
Cockroach droppings/body parts:
Yes, you might be surprised to know that cockroach droppings can cause allergies and asthma. This is often one of the tests that doctors will perform in the allergy skin tests. These contain proteins that can irritate some individuals when they come into contact with them either through inhalation or direct contact on the skin.
Smoke/cigarette smoke particles:
The toxic chemicals present in cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke can act as an irritant, causing various health problems including eye irritation and difficulty breathing.
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic release fine fibers into the air that may aggravate existing allergies due to their chemical composition.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
These substances–found indoors–often originate from paint, cleaning products, and other household items.
Certain bacteria found in the air can cause allergic reactions.
These particles are released by insects into the air and, if inhaled, may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.