Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
You catch a whiff of a co-worker's new fragrance, and within minutes, you have a whopper of a headache.
You pop open that new bottle of dish-washing liquid, and by the time you've washed the pots and pans, your hands and arms are covered in hives.
You walk into a friend's home and smell freshly baked pumpkin pie. Only after you start sneezing uncontrollably and feeling dizzy, weak, and sick to your stomach do you learn she hasn't been baking --...
But what about you? How can you be sure you have indoor allergies -- and pinpoint what’s causing them? To help you understand what’s behind your allergy symptoms, WebMD got tips from experts on how to recognize common allergy triggers and get the right diagnosis.
Indoor Allergies: First, Know the Symptoms
Half the battle of treating indoor allergies is recognizing you have them, says allergist Asriani Chiu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine (allergy/immunology), in Wisconsin. Allergy symptoms can be hard to pinpoint because they often mimic cold symptoms. Yet there are differences.
It also helps to understand the most common indoor allergy triggers.
Indoor Allergies: 5 Common Allergy Triggers
Every home harbors potential allergens, from the rare to the ubiquitous, but these five are the most common triggers for indoor allergies:
Dust: Dust can be made up of dozens of things, including tiny bits of plants, skin, soil, insects, food, fibers, and animal matter. Any one -- or more -- of these minute substances could trigger indoor allergies.
Dust Mites: As you may have guessed, dust mites thrive on dust. And, dust mite droppings are the most common trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Although you’ll find dust mites all over the house, they concentrate in areas rich with human dander (dead skin flakes) and high humidity: bedrooms, carpets, bathroom rugs.
Mold: Mold and mildew thrive in high humidity, such as your steamy bathroom or chilly, damp basement. Once they take hold, mold and mildew shed tiny spores -- and these spores trigger indoor allergy symptoms.
Pet Dander: If you have pet allergies, you’re not actually allergic to cat or dog hair. Instead, the allergic reaction is caused by a tiny protein in an animal’s saliva. Even homes without pets may contain dander. That’s because pet dander is sticky and light. It clings to clothes, shoes, and hair. Thus, pet dander can be found in boardrooms and classrooms, as well as at home.
Cockroaches: Like dust, roaches can be found almost everywhere. As with pets, it’s not the roach itself that triggers indoor allergies. Instead, the potential allergen is a protein found in the cockroach’s droppings.