How to Get Rid of Allergies
Understanding, Controlling, and Eliminating Allergens to Reduce Allergy Symptoms
|What causes an allergic reaction?|
|What are you allergic to?|
|How to prevent allergy attacks|
Thirty-five million Americans suffer from seasonal and indoor allergies. The good news is that you don't have to spend a lifetime of sneezing and reaching for tissues.
Coping with allergies starts by identifying, then avoiding, the things you're allergic to. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it is not that easy, and there are times when it's impossible. Maybe your job puts you around materials to which you are allergic, or the city you live in has various naturally-occurring allergens. Indoor air is 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside. Having a quality HEPA air purifier will remove particles such as dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen.
If you're trying to figure out how to get rid of allergies, understand that you may never block 100% of symptoms. However, there are several steps you can take to mitigate the problems they cause.
If you're constantly battling allergies, then you're probably well aware of the triggers. The four most commonly inhaled allergens are mold, pollen, pet dander, and dust. These compounds can be found both inside and outside the home, although some are more prominent in certain areas. Mold and pollen, are more abundant during certain times of the year. These are called "seasonal allergies," as people do not suffer from them year round. Finding an air purifier with a HEPA filter will trap the airborne allergens listed below. Please see our Allergy/Asthma section for a list.
Pollen is commonly found outside, but can make its way into your home through open windows and doors. It is the substance that plants produce for fertilization. The pollen is comprised of male gametes that are protected by a sac. It is this sac that is inhaled and creates an allergic reaction. These sacs are produced by anemophilous plants, meaning the pollen is spread by the wind. Heavier pollen, like that produced by entomophilous plants, is spread by insects.
Cedar fever is a relatively common ailment caused by pollen during the winter months and is localized in the southwest region of the country. Cedar fever has left many people wondering how to get rid of allergies, as it can be a debilitating condition. Other seasonal allergies plague various parts of the country, depending on the local plant life and climate of the region.
Mold is another compound that can cause allergies. Hay fever is a common seasonal allergy caused by mold. It takes place during the summer months, but can linger into the Fall in damp regions. Mold is a form of fungus that breeds quickly in hot and humid environments. Because of this, it can grow both indoors and outdoors. If you suffer from mold allergies, be sure to give your home regular cleanings to prevent any mold buildup.
Pet dander is another common allergen. Pet dander is skin and hair cells that are picked up into the air or left on furniture by your pet. Some people are allergic to these cells, and they can trigger a reaction. Some people are only allergic to dander from one species of animal, such as a cat, while others are allergic to all types of dander. Pet dander is predominately found indoors and can be dealt with by regular cleaning as well as with specialized household items.
Dust is also commonly found indoors and is known to cause allergic reactions. Dust collects in the corners of your house and behind bookcases and other furniture. It is made up of dead human skin cells as well as the feces and desiccated corpses of dust mites.
All of these allergens may not be as damaging for most people. Those who suffer from allergies have a malfunctioning immune system. Their immune system identifies an otherwise harmless particulate as dangerous and expels it as quickly as possible. This usually means sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. The body produces antibodies whenever it comes into contact with an identified allergen, which it then stores in mast cells for later use. When the body comes into contact with the allergen again, the antibodies are released in an effort to further repel the supposed invaders. One of the most active chemicals present in these antibodies is histamine, which causes a runny nose, watering eyes and itching of the face and throat.
If you want to know how to get rid of allergies, you'll first need to know what you are allergic to. This means taking a test. Allergy tests can be performed with a blood or skin test. The skin test involves a series of small pricks on a controlled portion of the skin. The resulting hives are then measured, and allergies are determined. The hives can itch and make you uncomfortable. The blood test is a bit more invasive, as there is a needle involved, but there is no itchiness involved. Both are effective tests, so the type you take is a matter of personal preference.
Virtually everyone occasionally has to deal with watery eyes, sneezing, or a runny nose, but the symptoms of someone who suffers from allergies can be much more unpleasant. Allergy symptoms include congestion, sore throat, sinus pressure, sinus headaches, and excessive sneezing and coughing. These symptoms, while not life-threatening, can make it extremely difficult to live a normal day-to-day life. Even driving a car becomes more difficult, and working conditions can become almost unbearable. But there are steps you can take to help lessen the effects of allergens or avoid them altogether.
How to prevent allergy attacks
If you're trying to figure out how to get rid of allergies, the most obvious step is to avoid the things you're allergic to altogether. When that's not possible, try taking a hot shower. This will ensure that any particulates that are washed from your body. You should also wash your clothes often (but make sure you're not allergic to the laundry detergent). An allergy wash can
|Austin Air Allergy Machine|
|Austin Air Allergy Machine Jr.|
be used to further decontaminate your clothing of any allergens that you may have brought home with you.
An air purifier is a filtration system that captures or destroys harmful particles, including those which can induce allergic reactions. HEPA air filters remove 99.97% of airborne particles. The EPA notes that air purifiers may be a helpful supplement to regular vacuuming, cleaning of surfaces and ducts, et cetera.
HEPA vacuums are also helpful. These vacuums are specially designed to capture and contain allergy causing particles.
Special pillowcases and mattress covers are also available for people who suffer from dust allergies. These bed accessories will ensure a cleaner environment while you are sleeping.
In situations where you know you will be exposed to allergens, allergy masks can be worn.
And, of course, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can stymie the effects of allergies. Some medications last the entire day, too. Medications, though, need to be taken as directed, including the prescribed duration. Otherwise, they won't be effective. Likewise, overuse can lead to significant health problems, the least of which is garnering a tolerance to them. If your medications aren't working properly, consult your physician.
If you're desperate to figure out how to treat allergies, you're not alone. According to WebMD:
- One in five Americans experience symptoms of allergy or asthma
- Fifty-five percent test positive to at least one allergen
- The annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses is $7.9 billion, according to one estimate
You don’t have to suffer from allergies all the time. Take steps to avoid allergens altogether, and take measures to lessen the severity of allergic attacks.
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