Allergy season is here again, and it’s that time when we all start trying to work out our worst allergens. If you are already tearing your hair out trying to work out what’s setting off your sneezes, you aren’t alone – allergy studies show that the vast majority have no idea which of the worst allergens trigger their reactions. Here’s some of the most common allergy triggers, so you can try avoiding them…
While most allergy sufferers know to avoid their own pets/regularly brush their pets, most don’t think about other animals that they see regularly. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see the actual animal, either. If your mum’s cat usually sleeps on the same sofa you sit at, the hairs could set you off. Likewise if your friend has been walking her gorgeous spaniel before coming to see you. Pet dander is easily transferred on people, clothing and furniture, and can be difficult to avoid. If you are going to a home that might set you off, try taking an antihistamine first, to give yourself a fighting chance of avoiding one of the worst allergens around.
Do you usually shower in the morning? While it might give you a zesty wake-up, it isn’t the best thing for your allergies. Dander and allergens build up on you throughout the day, and sleeping without washing them off gives them ample opportunity to set off your allergy. Showering before bed is the ideal solution, but if you don’t want to change your routine, try cleaning yourself with wet-wipes and changing into clean PJs in the evening. An antihistamine before bed can also help.
When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your carpets? Most people clean their mats a lot less than they should, and carpets are the perfect texture to collect allergens and dirt. Whenever you spend an extended period in a carpeted room, you breathe in the trapped particles. Hardwood floors can really ease suffering by removing the worst allergens, or invest in a steam-cleaner and regularly give your carpets and rugs a proper cleaning.
Scientists researching allergies came across a bizarre discovery when their subjects had a glass of wine: an alcoholic beverage increased symptoms by 3%. That means after just 3 glasses of wine, beer or liquor, your symptoms get 10% worse. Why? Well, alcoholic drinks all contain histamine, the chemical that elicits an allergen. Cutting down on alcoholic drinks will relieve symptoms, and swapping red wine for white is thought to be beneficial. Low-sulfite wines contain less histamine, so should cause lower reactions, and non-drowsy antihistamines will fight the symptoms if you fancy a glass. Just be careful!
Do you find your symptoms are worse after a work out? Gyms are warm and moist, which makes them the perfect environment for mold to grow. It’s thought that around 50% of allergy sufferers have an allergy to mold, so you could find that gyms become a trigger – and if you have hay fever, outside is likely to be unsuitable, too. Make gyms less of a challenge by spending minimal time in the sauna and locker room, and taking an antihistamine before you start working out. If your symptoms don’t improve, try switching to a gym with better ventilation.
If your wardrobe makes you sneeze, it might be time to upgrade your clothes. Materials such as polyester possess a natural static charge which attracts allergens, and traps them. These fabrics also tend to need low washing temperatures, which means dust mites and allergens can remain in the fabric even when it’s fresh out of the machine. Switch to natural materials such as cashmere, wool and cotton, which can be washed at higher temperatures and are less likely to collect allergens. Dry clean only garments are also a good bet, as the dry cleaning process kills dust mites and returns clothes as good as new.
Yep, this has to be one of the worst the worst allergens – and the weirdest. When you feel stressed, your body released Immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for triggering a whole variety of allergy symptoms including itchy eyes and sneezing. And the only cure? Calming down. While antihistamines might relieve the symptoms temporarily, they’ll keep coming back until you fight the frazzled feeling. Try yoga or meditation for an hour a week, and your symptoms might reduce by over 60%.
Of course, these aren’t the only allergy triggers. Pollution is known to set off a large percentage of allergy sufferers, and perfumes and scented candles are another well known trigger that drives sufferers mad – sometimes it can feel like we live on antihistamines. But once you’ve identified your worst allergens, you can begin avoiding them (or at least preparing for them!) and you’ll feel much better. Give it a try – and don’t forget to let me know your worst trigger! A comprehensive list might help us all out…
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