No one likes having allergies, but what is even more frustrating is not knowing the source of all your sniffles. Allergy symptoms can be a result of something obvious like pollens in the air, but there are also other unsuspecting causes of your allergies, and they can be anything from what you keep in your house to your lifestyle habits. Knowing what triggers allergic reactions can help you change around your routine to minimize all that eye watering and nose running, so you can finally function without feeling like you need to grab a tissue every minute.
If you suffer from allergies, you're not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of adults suffer from allergies, and it is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. in people of all ages.
"The development of allergies may be hereditary and could simply just be something you inherited from your parents," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. "Your environment, though, certainly plays a key role as well. One person may be exposed repeatedly to certain allergens early on in life and develop an allergy, while someone else may not have been exposed and therefore will not have the propensity to develop that same allergy."
If you're so over that constant sniffling, consider these 11 weird things that could be making your allergies worse.
1. Working Out Outside
"Exercise, especially exercising outdoors, will make allergies much worse," says Dr. Tim Mainardi, co-founder of Hudson Allergy, over email. "The average person breathes in about 6 liters of air per minute at rest, so they are exposed to 6 liters worth of pollen that's floating in that air. When a person exercises, they breathe in about 30 liters of air per minute, sometimes more. Therefore, they breathe in much more pollen and other allergens."
Alcohol causes capillaries to dilate in the nose, but when it comes to boozy drinks, wine is the worst offender. "That suggests there's more to it than just the alcohol," says Mainardi. "Wines have sulfites, cadaverines, and histamines, mostly naturally produced during the fermentation process, which contribute to worsening allergies."
3. Skipping A Shower
"Pollens and other allergens become impregnated in hair and clothing," says Mainardi. "Skipping the shower, or avoiding washing out a favorite pair of jeans, can cause you to be exposed to allergens for a longer time."
4. Candles And Air Fresheners
Scented candles and air fresheners can cause allergy-like symptoms such as a runny nose or a headache. According to the Journal Of Environmental Health, 19 percent of people experience adverse reactions to air fresheners.
5. Cleaning Products
"Before you start spritzing and spraying cleaning solutions, check the label first and be conscious of the various scents, chemicals, and cleaners you are using in your home," says Dr. Bob Geng, Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist and a medical advisor for Honeywell Air Purifiers over email. "What many don't realize is that airborne chemicals from a range of household products — soaps, detergents, cleaning supplies — can linger in the home."
6. Fresh Fruits & Veggies
"Some of the antibodies we develop that attack pollens are more permissive and accidentally cross react to other substances," says Mainardi. "Eating those fruits can cause a mild (or sometimes severe) allergic reaction typically in the mouth and throat."
7. Contact Lenses
Allergens such as pollen and dust can stick to contact lenses, making your symptoms worse, according to VSP. If you're experiencing allergy symptoms, keep your contacts clean, use artificial tear drops, or consider switching to your glasses for a little.
A study from the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that people over two 14-day periods, 64 percent of people with high stress levels had more than four allergy flare-ups. "Encountering stressful situations may not only lead to a surge in certain stress hormones in the body, but it may also potentially trigger the release of histamines which may worsen your allergy symptoms," says Okeke-Igbokwe.
A dip in the pool might seem innocent, but chlorine can irritate and sensitize the respiratory tract, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This can cause a reaction similar to allergies or asthma.
10. Not Washing Your Bedding
"Everyone should be washing their bedding in hot water at temperature greater than 130 degrees Fahrenheit weekly to minimize allergens," says board-certified allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden. Dust mites can collect in your bedding, which can trigger allergies and asthma, according to WebMD.
11. Keeping Pets In The Bedroom
"Pets are a major trigger for allergies," says Ogden. "Allowing pets to sleep on the bed, or even in the bedroom exposes you to all of the allergens their fur carries."
Everyone reacts differently to specific allergens, but you might want to make a few changes in your home if you suspect your habits are causing your allergies to be worse.
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