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Types and Causes of Allergies: Part 2

An allergic reaction happens when the body identifies a substance (known as an allergen) as harmful to the body, even though it isn’t. This overreaction of the immune system results in various signs and symptoms of allergy as the body tries to fight it off.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has identified seven main types of allergies. In Part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the first four types (drug, food, insect, and latex) together with their signs and symptoms.

In Part 2, we tackle the remaining three, which are all present in our environment.

5. Mold allergy

Molds are present in many areas of the house and even in the environment. You can get exposed almost anywhere. There are approximately 1000 mold species in the United States, which can be airborne and cause an allergic reaction to people with a mold allergy. Therefore, if you have an allergy that lasts for several seasons, you might be allergic to the spores of molds.

If you have a mold allergy, exposure may lead to the following signs and symptoms:

  • Runny and congested nose
  • Sneezing, wheezing
  • Eye irritation
  • Coughing and itchy throat

Doing a regular house clean-up, especially in the basement, bathroom, cabinets, and laundry area can guard you against mold. Lowering your indoor humidity to below 35% is the best way to prevent mold growth, as molds and fungi thrive in places with more than 50% humidity.

6. Pet allergy

Pet allergy refers to allergy to pets with fur. It usually affects people who have asthma and other allergies. Pet allergy is incredibly prevalent! In fact, 30% of Americans with allergies also have allergic reactions to the dander of cats and dogs.

Contrary to popular belief, your pet’s hair is not an allergen. It collects urine, saliva, dander, and even dust and pollens, which cause the allergic reaction. These allergens can become suspended in the air when the animal is petted.

If you have a pet allergy, you might experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling, itching, and inflammation of the area around the eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Skin redness when the animal licks or scratches your skin
  • Breathing problems when the allergen gets into the lungs
  • Severe rash on the face, neck, and chest (in highly sensitive people)

7. Pollen allergy

Pollen is a common cause of seasonal allergies—usually every spring, summer, and fall. During these seasons, plants release pollens to facilitate the fertilization of other plants. These pollens travel by the wind and may cause signs and symptoms to people with pollen allergies, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Itchy eyes, nose, ears, and mouth
  • Red, watery, and swollen eyes

Pollens from grasses are the most common cause of pollen allergy. Other sources of pollen include ragweed, pigweed, sagebrush, tumbleweed, and lamb’s quarters. Pollens from trees like birch, oak, and cedar are also highly allergenic.

What to do

Aside from avoiding exposure to allergens, you may take antihistamine and decongestant medications, which help relieve signs and symptoms. If you haven’t been diagnosed with allergies, but you are suspecting that you have one, it is best to consult your Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic doctor for a more specific course of treatment.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.