Spring has sprung – and with it most of the things that make us sick. Everyone is allergic to something these days. If you’re like me, you’re allergic to a lot of things. Here are some ways to identify, treat and limit your exposure to common allergy triggers.
Ah, the flowers are so beautiful this time of year, blooming like mad and sending out lovely pollen into the world to make more beautiful flowers. Lucky us, right?
Common symptoms include those associated with hay fever: runny, itchy nose and eyes, congestion and embarrassing sneezing fits. Most people counter pollen allergies with antihistamines. If I have to be outdoors for too long in the spring, I find it helpful to take a pill and use nasal spray before I go out. Closing the windows helps, too.
For many, dust is a common, year-round allergy trigger. Technically, it’s not dust that’s making you sick but the mites living in the dust. Dust mites are microscopic insects that eat dust particles. Here’s another fun fact about dust: dust is composed mainly of sloughed-off human skin cells.
Dust allergies cause the same symptoms as pollen allergies. Keep your home clean. Seriously, it helps. Wash your bedding frequently, sweep under the bed before the dust bunnies collect and use hypoallergenic covers on pillows and mattresses. If you’re able, replace old carpeting with hardwood floors. Until then, make someone else do the vacuuming and invest in allergy-reducing vacuum cleaner bags.
Mold grows best in damp, dark places like basements, inside drop ceilings and behind walls. Mold grows pretty much anywhere you wouldn’t think to look. If you live in a wet climate or you’ve ever had leaky plumbing, chances are very good that you’ve got mold growing somewhere.
Symptoms range from mild headaches to severe autoimmune disorders, depending on the type of mold you come into contact with. Keep your home well ventilated and use bleach when you clean.
In the spring, animals “lose their winter coats” by shedding excess fur to stay cool during the hotter months. Technically, your allergies are most likely triggered by secreted oils carried on the fur.
An allergic reaction to a pet feels like hay fever, and you may also get hives. Stay out of your pet-owning friends’ homes, or take over-the-counter allergy medication to combat symptoms. If it’s your Fluffy or Fido triggering an allergy, consider shelling out the cash for a HEPA air filter or allergy shots.
Allergic reactions to insects are usually triggered by bites or stings. Humans are allergic to mosquito saliva, which explains the swelling and itching, and any number of poisons secreted by spider bites. Bee and wasp stings cause sever allergic reactions in some. Having cockroaches in your home, work or apartment building may also trigger an allergy. Cockroach feces contain irritants and may cause respiratory problems.
Stay inside or use a hypoallergenic insect repellent if you’re worried about insects triggering allergies. Unless you have cockroaches – then you should stay outside.