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    Know Your Allergy Triggers

    Many things can trigger allergies. The most common are pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex, and certain food and medications.

    You may think you know what the problem is -- your friend’s cat, certain plants, those dust “bunnies” under your bed. That's a start, and by all means, avoid something that bothers you.

    But it also helps to keep notes on your symptoms -- when they start, how long they last, and whatever seems to bring them on. If it's hard to tell what's causing them, or if they become too hard for you to handle on your own, see a doctor about getting allergy tests. The tests will help pinpoint exactly what your triggers are. 

    Here are things you need to know about the 8 most common culprits.


    1. Pollen

    2. Dust Mites

    These critters are so tiny you can’t see them without a microscope. Symptoms are similar to those caused by a pollen allergy, but they often happen year round instead of just during certain seasons.

    Treatment may include medications such as steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, or decongestants.

    Do this:

    • Put dust mite covers over mattresses, pillows, and box springs.
    • Use hypoallergenic pillows.
    • Wash sheets weekly in hot water.
    • Keep all areas of your home, especially the bedroom, free of stuff that collects dust, such as stuffed animals, curtains, and carpet.


    3. Mold

    Molds are tiny fungi with spores that float in the air like pollen. They thrive in damp areas such as basements or bathrooms and in piles of leaves or grass.

    The symptoms are similar to those of pollen and dust mite allergies and include sneezing, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and coughing.

    Treatment is similar to that for dust mite and pollen allergies.

    Do this:

    • Avoid mold and get rid of things that encourage its growth.
    • Repair any water damage or leaks in your home.
    • You may not want to keep plants inside because their soil can hold mold.
    • If you rake leaves in the fall, wear a mask.


    4. Animal Dander and Cockroaches

    Dander are flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs and even birds. Dander can trigger allergies. You might also react to the proteins from oil glands in an animal's skin or proteins from an animal's saliva.

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