Most Common Allergens
Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from allergies; however, the specific causes and reactions can vary greatly from person to person. When a person suffers from allergies his or her immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance as an invasive pathogen. In response, it triggers a number of unpleasant or even potentially dangerous symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, nasal congestion or swelling of the throat. To better understand what might be causing your symptoms, learn the most common allergens.
While a small percentage of people can have dangerous allergic reactions to certain foods or medications, numerous people experience minor reactions to common allergies, which are found in and around the home. These include:
Weeds: The likely cause of most late summer and early fall allergies, weeds are found in just about every part of the United States. In fact, there are 17 different species that keep people sniffling and sneezing until frost. The most common offender is ragweed; however, pigweed, sagebrush and goosefoot pollen also cause problems for many people.
Molds: Microscopic plants that thrive in dark, warm, moist areas, molds reproduce by spewing tiny spores into the air. Unfortunately, because they can survive within the home during the winter and summer, these spores can cause problems year-round.
Dust Mites: Tiny eight-legged creatures that multiply in warm, humid areas, dust mites are actually related to ticks, chiggers and spiders. They thrive within carpet, bedding, furniture, clothing and soft toys.
Grasses: These allergens tend to be at their worst from late spring to early summer. Some of the most common culprits include sweet vernal, Bermuda grass, timothy grass, blue grass and red top.
Trees: By infusing the air with countless tiny dust-like pollen particles, trees cause major problems for countless people. While some start producing pollen as early as January, most begin in April. Prevalent throughout America, the oak tree is a major offender. Evergreens, cedar, cypress, juniper and sequoia are also regular offenders; as are, birch, sycamores, olive trees and cottonwoods.
What You Can Do
When trying to guard against allergies, it's important to avoid stimuli which can trigger or worsen attacks. Avoid alcohol which can dilate blood vessels within the nose. You should also stay inside after thunderstorms, which can stir up pollen. You can also reduce symptoms by going light on sticky hair products which act like pollen-catching magnets. To avoid mold, don't overwater plants and dehumidify your home. Lastly, try taking a shower before sleeping to keep from carrying allergens into your bed.