With more than 60 million Americans affected, allergies are an important health issue. Billions of dollars are spent annually to treat symptoms and prevent potentially fatal reactions. So what is responsible for causing all this mayhem? Below is a list of the most common allergy causes.
- Pollen — Based on the season, weeds, trees and grasses all release tiny particles into the air that cause your nose to itch or your eyes to water.
- Mold spores — Tiny fungi which ruin your bread, fruit and vegetables can also cause coughing and runny nose.
- Insects — Biting and stinging insects will cause your skin to itch and swell. For about 2% of people, they can even be deadly.
- Dust — Soil particulates picked up by the wind can get into your airways and cause you to cough or sneeze.
- Food – Publicity about allergies to nuts, lactose intolerance and other adverse reactions to food has increased over the years, making it easier for allergy-sensitive consumers to avoid these foods.
- Medicine – Always discuss your medications with your doctor, and talk to your pharmacist about potentially harmful drug interactions.
- Smoke – Forest fires and cigarettes can irritate the nose and throat. If the smoke is thick enough, it can lead to respiratory problems.
- Pet dander – Keeping your pet well-groomed can help alleviate those episodes of sneezing.
- Latex – Skin rash, itchiness and occasional blisters can be triggered by an allergy to the rubber tree used to make latex. In rare cases, it can be life-threatening.
- Perfume – Itchy eyes, skin rash, coughing and sneezing can be triggered by cosmetics containing certain chemical ingredients.
Being aware of your allergies is the first step toward taking preventative measures. If you aren’t sure of the cause, schedule a visit with a doctor who specializes in allergy testing. Knowing whether an allergy is caused by food, animals, Mother Nature, or synthetics will improve your quality of life!
So, What Can You Do?
As allergy season spreads across the U.S., and with it comes the misery of sneezing, sniffles and itchy eyes, one option to avoid allergies is to stay inside, but who wants to be a shut-in 8 months of the year?
Here’s some ideas to combat seasonal allergies:
Keep yourself clean
- Be sure to wash your hands any time you handle anything that might have pollen, dust, pet dander or any kind of allergen on it. Also, if you’re working in an area that is loaded with allergens, be sure to wash your clothes well afterwards. These steps will prevent the spread of the histamines that cause allergies from migrating to your clothes, and will limit the opportunity for them to irritate your body.
Keep your surroundings clean
- Invest in an air filter to clean the air in the rooms you use most, such as your bedroom. Many retailers sell air filters fairly inexpensively. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate filter) is required to capture 99.97 percent of the particles that pass through it. Vacuum carpets often – - at least 1 to 2 times a week – - so that pollen, dust, animal fur and other things don’t get embedded in the carpet. Also, consider changing your permanent carpets to washable throw rugs that can be washed any time you do laundry.
Flush your sinuses
- There are numerous ways to flush the histamines that cause allergies out of your nose. The simplest method is to put plenty of water into your cupped hands. Then, direct the water toward each nostril while inhaling through your nose. Another option is a neti pot, a small bowl shaped like a genie’s lamp, that has been used in India for thousands of years. Fill the pot with water and add a little bit of salt to the pot. Then tilt the pot toward your nose, and let the water drain through the nostril. Repeat on the other nostril.
- There are numerous drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription, which can be used to treat allergies. These work by blocking the passages in the nose which allergy-creating materials attach to, keeping them from locking on. Keep in mind that many of these drugs are temporary in relief, so a bad allergy attack means that repeated treatment. Also consider the side-effects of any treatment you might choose, as some drugs can induce severe drowsiness.
- If you know you’re going to be working in an allergy-filled environment, make some preparations ahead of time to protect yourself. For example, get a thick pair of work gloves to cover your hands and prevent dust and pollen from spreading onto your hands. If you’re going to be in a dusty area, get a dust mask with a good filter. A little preparation can save a lot of trouble later on.
- If you dislike the idea of using drugs, there are some natural anti-histamines. An antioxidant known as quercetin helps stabilize the cells in your nose, keeping them from being irritated by the allergens that exist in the environment. Foods such as garlic and onions are high in quercetin, so you can add these to your diet, and live a bit more allergy-free. If the idea of eating a clove of garlic is horrifying, quercetin is available at most health-food stores in supplement form. Also good to fight allergies are omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, walnuts, grass-fed meat and eggs.
Stay Safe. Know Before™.
-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team