Spring and summer are fast approaching, and apart from the warm sunny weather, for many people it also means dealing with sneezing, sniffling, nasal congestion, red, itchy, burning, and watery eyes.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies are the visible symptoms when your body reacts to a trigger. The immune system generates antibodies that cause histamine and other substances to counteract the allergies.
There are two types of allergies: seasonal and perennial.
Seasonal allergies: these happen at certain times of the year — usually early spring through summer and into autumn. Triggers are allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.
Perennial allergies: these occur all year-round. Primary causes include dust mites, feathers (in bedding), and animal (pet) dander. Other substances, including perfumes, smoke, chlorine, air pollution, cosmetics, and certain medicines, can also play a role.
How To Identify The Factors Which Trigger Your Allergies
Sometimes it is straightforward for a person to identify the factors which cause their allergies to react. If for instance, you visit a friend or relative who has a cat, and all of a sudden your eyes begin to stream or become red and itchy, it quickly becomes apparent that you are allergic to cats.
However, it is not always this simple. So where there appear to be no obvious factors triggering your allergies, then a visit to your doctor might be the best option. A doctor can perform a range of different tests to identify exactly what is causing your allergies.
How To Reduce Your Symptoms and Proactively Tackle The Problem
Although it may seem obvious, once the specific source of your problem has been identified, the best solution is to avoid those triggers whenever possible. For example, rather than visiting your friend at their house where the cats live, ask them to visit you, or meet at a local restaurant.
Other practical tips include:
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in the mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores).
- When you go out, wear eyeglasses or big sunglasses to block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.
- To limit your exposure to dust mites, use special pillow covers that keep allergens out. Wash bedding frequently in hot water. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one.
- Clean floors with a damp mop. Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. Especially if you have a pet, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens. Replace them with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Choose blinds instead of curtains for the same reason.
- To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%. You may need to use a dehumidifier, especially in a damp basement. Clean the dehumidifier regularly. And use a bleach solution when cleaning your kitchen and bathrooms.
- If your pet is a trigger, then try to keep it outside as much as possible. At the very least, keep it out of your bedroom.
- Try not to rub your eyes as this is likely to make symptoms worse. Use cool compresses instead to relieve discomfort.
One final tip: Take your partner with you when you visit the doctor so they can try to get a better understanding of the problem. Anyone who does not suffer from allergies will struggle to fully comprehend how challenging, frustrating and exhausting they can be. Once they fully understand the severity of the issue, you can work together on the suggestions above to reduce your exposure to triggering allergens.