An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a substance such as mold, pet dander, or pollen that doesn’t elicit a response in most people. The substance is called a trigger, meaning that it triggers the reaction of your immune system. The reaction is considered an allergy attack.
Allergies are common. Over 50 million people in the US have them. Allergy symptoms, which usually include congestion, cough, and itchy, watery eyes, can range from mild to severe. Some allergies can even be life-threatening. The best way to manage your allergies is to determine your triggers and avoid them.
The family practice providers at Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, help people create a plan to manage their allergies. Here, they share the most common allergy triggers and advice on how to avoid them.
Pollen is a fine, light, dust-like substance that comes from trees and grass. An allergy to pollen is called hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Over 20 million adults and 6 million children are allergic to pollen.
The best way to avoid this trigger is to keep track of your area's pollen counts and stay inside when they're high. To prevent pollen from floating inside your house, keep windows and doors shut. When you are outside, wear glasses and a mask for protection.
A pet allergy does not mean you're allergic to dogs or cats. A pet allergy is an allergic reaction to pet dander, the tiny flakes of dead skin shed from furry animals' skin or hair. In some cases, you may be allergic to a pet's saliva.
To avoid pet dander, try to avoid the pet that triggers your allergy, if possible. However, if you can't or if you already have a pet that you're not willing to get rid of, make sure it stays out of your bedroom and living area. Vacuum and wash your home frequently, and also wash the pet often.
Molds are tiny fungi that breed in warm, moist environments. Mold can grow year-round indoors and outdoors, so you need to be vigilant against this trigger. It floats in the air like pollen and be inhaled unknowingly.
To avoid outdoor mold sources, keep track of mold counts as you would pollen, and limit outdoor activity unless you wear protective gear such as glasses and a mask. To limit exposure to indoor mold, keep on top of cleaning your home, especially damp areas such as the bathroom and kitchen.
Dust mites are microscopic critters that thrive in most environments, but especially in warm, damp ones. They can settle in fabric surfaces of your home, such as your bedding, carpeting, curtains, and mattresses. About 20 million people in the US have dust mite allergies.
To avoid them, clean and vacuum frequently. Use dust-mite covers for your mattress and pillow and change your sheets regularly. A HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom and living area can help keep dust mites at bay.
A food allergy is more than not liking a food or feeling a bit of indigestion after you've eaten it. An allergy to a food or beverage, such as milk, shellfish, nuts, or eggs, results in an immediate reaction such as hives, vomiting, swelling, and trouble breathing.
Avoiding foods that cause an allergic reaction is the first step. Additionally, you should carry an epinephrine auto-injector to use in case of emergency.
Do you have allergies? Call Wasatch Peak Family Practice to make an appointment with one of our caring family practice providers. You can also request an appointment online.