Millions of Americans suffer from at least one allergy.
While some are seasonal, others remain a constant threat.
There are a multitude of allergens out there, but most can be classified into one of four general categories.
Category 1: Outdoor Allergens
Outdoor allergens include pollen, weeds, grass, mold, stinging insects and air pollution. Pollen released from plants throughout the year triggers allergic rhinitis (hay fever), which causes a variety of symptoms similar to a common cold including congestion, sinus pressure, runny nose and sneezing. Hay fever affects most people in the spring and summer months.
Mold is another common outdoor allergen that can also cause allergic rhinitis. Because mold spores are small, they can get past the protective barriers in the nose and upper respiratory tract to reach the lungs, leading to restricted breathing. Insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets that release venom into the blood stream, can also generate a massive allergic reaction. Finally, air pollution can be very irritating to the mucous membrane lining the respiratory tract.
If you are sensitive to outdoor allergens like pollution, mold and pollen, make sure to check the local weather in your area for a full report before heading outside.
Category 2: Household Allergens
These types of allergens include pollen, insects, cleaning products, mold spores, dust and medications. Pollen is not just an outdoor problem; it also has a clever way of getting into your home, especially during the warmer seasons. Insects, such as cockroaches, can easily spread disease and, unbeknownst to many, can trigger allergies as well. Bug sprays and other chemical cleaning products can also set off an allergic reaction. Dust mites can also pose a huge problem.
To avoid having a reaction, try your best to keep your house clean by vacuuming frequently, dusting and switching out carpet for tile or hardwood. Lastly, certain medications can cause an allergic reaction, so make sure to read all labels carefully and consult a physician if you have any concerns or symptoms of a reaction.
Category 3: Food Allergens
Every year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to different foods. The top eight most common food allergens are eggs, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. While many only experience minor symptoms, others have severe, life-threatening reactions that require urgent medical care. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction if you have a food allergy is to always have your guard up when it comes to food and self-advocate.
Category 4: Animal Allergens
A large percentage of the population is allergic to animals, the most common being cats and dogs. The proteins found in animals’ feces, dander, urine and saliva can lead to an allergic reaction. This is why you could have an allergic reaction even if the animal is not physically present in the room.