40 million people in the United States suffer from some type of
indoor or outdoor allergy. Many allergy sufferers have more than one
An allergy is an abnormal immune response to a substance that
does not cause a reaction in most people. Any substance that causes
an allergic reaction is referred to as an allergen.
When a person who is allergic comes in contact with an allergen, his
or her immune system responds to the allergen as if it were a
harmful substance, causing an allergic reaction.
Several different substances can cause allergies. Hay fever is a
type of outdoor allergy caused by plant pollen (e.g., ragweed) in
the air. Certain foods and medications also can cause allergies. In
some cases, people develop allergies to substances that are present
inside their homes. These types of allergies are called indoor
Common types of Allergens
- Dust mite
debris: Dust mites are
microscopic creatures that thrive in warm, humid conditions.
They exist in large numbers in bedding, such as pillows and
mattresses. Dust mite waste products are a common allergen.
These substances can build up over time within bedding materials
and can be inhaled during sleep.
- Pet dander: A protein in animal saliva is an
allergen that triggers an immune response in people who have a
pet allergy. This protein can be found on dead skin and hair
debris from the pet and in the animal’s urine. This debris can
become airborne in general house dust and then can be inhaled.
debris: Cockroaches are
difficult to fully exterminate in certain areas (e.g., in the
southern United States, in large, older apartment buildings in
urban areas). When cockroaches die, their bodies and waste
products break down into small particles that can become
airborne and can be inhaled.
- Mold: Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on indoor as well as
outdoor surfaces. Under the right conditions (e.g., damp, humid)
within a home, mold can grow under flooring materials; behind
walls; and on wood, sheet rock, or fabric. As it grows, mold
produces spores that become airborne and can be inhaled.
The only way to prevent allergy symptoms
is to avoid contact with allergens. Many products are
available to help reduce allergens in the home; however, it is
important to get as much information as possible before buying these
For example, there are several home
air-filtering systems available, but the quality of these systems
varies greatly and comparing one system with another can be
An allergic reaction to food
often called food allergies, can cause mild to serious symptoms such
Vomiting, Nausea, Stomach cramps, Indigestion, Diarrhea,
Hives or skin rash, Headaches and Asthma.
and tree nuts are the most common food allergens for adults. Milk,
eggs, soy, wheat, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts are the most
common food allergens for children. The best defense
against food allergies is to avoid foods that cause a reaction.
Cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that can further
aggravate allergies and people with allergies may be more sensitive
to these toxins than people who do not have allergies. Smoking
should not be allowed in the home.
Insect stings are common
causes of medical problems. Bees and wasps, together with fire ants, are all related insects that belong to the
order. Bee and wasp stings can cause significant reactions,
ranging from localized pain and swelling to serious and even potentially fatal
conditions. At least 40 deaths occur each year in the U.S. as a
result of bee or wasp stings.
reactions can affect your nose, throat, eyes,
lungs, skin, stomach or intestines. Rarely, they can affect
the whole body. Whenever you are exposed to something you are
allergic to, your body will trigger an allergic response again. That
is why it's important to know what you are allergic to and take
steps to treat or avoid a reaction.
* Allergy Treatment ...