Allergies are caused when foreign substances enter your body and the immune system reacts to their presence. MayoClinic.com says your immune system produces antibodies that protect the body from unwanted invaders. The system perceives certain allergens as harmful and causes reactions from minor irritations to life-threatening conditions. The top 10 common allergies occur from environmental factors, products used on the skin, and items consumed by the body.
Pollen originated from three major sources – ragweed, grass and trees. Ragweed pollen comes from weeds such as pigweed, plantain, sheep sorrel and sagebrush and commonly occurs between August and November, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Grass and tree allergies are seasonal and depend on the region where specific trees and grasses grow. The NIEHS advices avoiding the outdoors during high pollen time, usually between 5-10 a.m.
Dust mites are tiny bugs found in house dust. These microscopic creatures live in house furniture, bedding, pillows and even children’s stuffed animals. According to MayoClinic.com, dust mites feed on your skin cells and thrive in warm, humid atmospheres. They cause allergic reactions like sneezing and runny noses. The best way to combat dust mite allergies include using allergy-proof bedding, washing bedding weekly in hot water that is about 130 degrees F or above, cleaning dust from home, purchasing washable stuffed animals, and reducing indoor humidity.
Insect Bites and Stings
Insect bites and stings cause an immediate allergic reaction. Bugs that cause the most reactions include fire ants, bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, spiders, and fleas. You may experience minor allergic reactions like irritated, red skin and itching. In severe cases, however, an insect bite or sting may lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis affects the entire body that may lead to problems breathing and swallowing, skin rashes, confusion, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, wheezing, and speech difficulties. You need immediate emergency care.
Pet allergies usually occur because animals with fur often carry dander. The American Lung Association defines pet dander as tiny flecks of skin shed by dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and other fur-bearing animals. Proteins in animal urine, saliva and feces also cause allergic reactions in some people. Some allergic reactions are minor irritations like itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses. Severe reactions cause skin irritations and breathing difficulties that require medications. The best way to prevent pet allergies is reducing pet hair and dander in the home, bathing pets, and not letting pets sit on furniture. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests getting furless pets like fish, snakes or turtles.
Food allergies result when the immune system reacts negative to the proteins found in certain foods. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology says the eight common allergy-inducing foods are cow’s milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat. You can also be allergic to fruits and grains. Though food intolerance and food allergies have similar symptoms, food allergies are life threatening and swelling of the esophagus. Allergic reactions require immediate care, and physicians often prescribe medications.
Drug allergies occur because your body’s immune system does not react properly. According to MayoClinic.com, allergies develop from both prescription and over-the-counter medications and may cause skin reactions or life-threatening conditions. Risks for drug allergies are stronger of you suffer from other allergies, take multiple medications, and have certain chronic conditions or weak immune systems. You may develop allergies to drugs they’ve taken in the past, or your sensitivity to medications may eventually decrease.
Latex products are everywhere, including rubber gloves, rubber bands, tape, bandages, diapers, sanitary products, toys, condoms, and pacifiers and nipples. FamilyDoctor.org says latex is even found in medical and dental tools such as blood pressure cuffs, catheters, and materials used for root canals. Allergies to latex occur because of the protein found in rubber, the natural product used to manufacture the product. Allergic reactions consist of sneezing, breathing difficulty and anaphylactic shock.
Mold allergies strike at any time of the year and are the result of mold spores and other fungi. Mold lives on indoor and outdoor surfaces or can be airborne, blown about the atmosphere in windy weather. Outdoor mold thrives on rotting wood, leaves, compost piles, plants, grass, and grains. Inside, they like damp places like kitchens, bathrooms and basements. The AAFA says you are most likely to be allergic to mold if you are allergic to pollen, pets and dust mites.
Pesky cockroaches seem to invade even the best of homes; however, not only are they unsightly, they trigger allergic reactions in some people. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology states that cockroaches are common in older, multifamily homes and the southern United States. Protein found in cockroaches trigger allergic reactions in people. This protein is found on their skin, in their saliva, and in their fecal matter. Though you may not be able to completely eliminate cockroaches, you can make their home less inviting by not leaving food out and reducing moisture in and around the home.
Allergies to chemicals are categorized under a broad term referred to as multiple chemical sensitivity. The broad range of chemicals a person are allergic to include perfumes, smoke, gasoline, cleaning and deodorizing products, and soaps. You may have a hard time knowing what will trigger a reaction because it’s hard to pinpoint particular elements in different substances. You will have to keep records of what causes an allergic response. Triggers may produce symptoms such as burning, itchy eyes, breathing problems, sore throats, coughing or sneezing, pain, headaches and lethargy.
Common allergens are found in the environment, as well as in the sanctity of your home. It is hard to avoid them if you have certain sensitivities because allergens thrive on surfaces and travel via the air. The best defense against them is minimizing triggers in your home and knowing when common allergens are more likely to be active in the environment. When you strive to be proactive, you reduce the chance of experiencing minor or life-threatening reactions.