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Allergy Triggers

There are a number of different allergy triggers. The most common are pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex, and certain food and medications. If you have an allergy, your symptoms can range from mild eye irritation and congestion to a more severe reaction causing generalized swelling and difficulty breathing.

If you have asthma, a reaction to any offending allergy-causing substance can worsen your asthma symptoms. Still, there are steps you can take to prevent and treat allergy attacks when they occur.

Pollen Allergy

Exposure to pollen can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes. Treatments include over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines such as Benadryl, Clarinex, Zyrtec, or Allegra; oral decongestants like Sudafed; nasal decongestants like Afrin and Dristan; steroid nasal sprays, including generic fluticasone, Rhinocort, Nasonex, Flonase, and Veramyst; and drugs that combine antihistamines and decongestants like Allegra-D, Claritin-D, or Zyrtec-D. Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are also an option.

Prevent pollen allergy symptoms by staying indoors on windy days or when pollen counts are high, closing windows, using air conditioning, and refraining from hanging clothes out to dry during the pollen season.

Dust Mite Allergy

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that live in house dust. Symptoms of a dust mite allergy are similar to pollen allergy but often occur year round rather than just seasonally. Treatment may include medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal sprays.

Help prevent dust mite allergies by putting dust mite covers over mattresses, pillows, and box springs, using hypoallergenic pillows, washing sheets weekly in hot water, and keeping all areas of the house, especially the bedroom, free of dust collecting-items like stuffed animals, curtains, and carpet. The humidity should be kept below 45%.

Mold Allergy

Molds are parasitic microscopic fungi with spores that float in the air like pollen. Molds can be a common trigger for allergies and may be found found in damp areas such as basements or bathrooms as well as in grass, leaf piles, hay, and mulch or under mushrooms. Symptoms of mold allergies can occur seasonally, especially in the summer and fall, or year round if mold is in your home. The symptoms are similar to those of pollen and dust mite allergies and include sneezing, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and coughing. Treatments include avoidance and removal of factors which contribute to the growth of molds. The same medications and therapies that are used with dust mite and pollen allergies can be used to address mold allergy.

Help prevent mold allergies by avoiding activities that trigger symptoms, such as clearing leaves; use a mask while removing the leaves if you are allergic. Keep windows and doors closed, and make sure moist places in the home, such as the basement and bathrooms, are well ventilated. Look for areas of water damage or leaks and repair those spots. Keep indoor plants to a minimum, because their soil harbors and promotes mold growth.

WebMD Medical Reference

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