Allergies are relatively common disorders that affect about 50 million Americans. These conditions can occur seasonally or year-round, depending on the substances that trigger your allergies.
An allergy occurs when your immune system becomes extra sensitive to a foreign substance, called an allergen. When you’re exposed to a substance that your body identifies as an allergen, the contact triggers an allergic reaction to protect your body from something it interprets as harmful.
An allergic reaction triggers the production of antibodies that work to protect your body from foreign substances and diseases. Antibodies discharge chemicals that cause symptoms in your lungs, nose, sinuses, throat, stomach, or on your skin.
The allergy testing specialists at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, can help you identify the source of your allergies with allergy testing. Based on the results of in-office allergy testing that includes blood tests and skin tests, they design a treatment plan to help you reduce allergy symptoms that interfere with daily life.
When you know the substances that trigger your allergies, making these simple adjustments can help you reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction.
Limit exposure to pollen
A pollen allergy ranks as one of the most common seasonal allergies. Pollen allergies are triggered when you inhale this substance outdoors.
Weeds, trees, and grasses produce most of the pollen that triggers allergic reactions. If you’re allergic to pollen, you can reduce your risk of symptoms by staying inside on windy days, when the wind can pick up small grains of pollen and carry them through the air, or days when your local weather forecast indicates high pollen counts.
If you spend time outside, avoid bringing pollen into your house by changing into clean clothes when you enter and bathing before bedtime to remove pollen from your hair and body. When inside, keep your doors and windows closed to keep pollen out.
Inspect your home for common allergens
Common indoor allergens include dust mites and indoor molds. If you’re allergic to these substances, it's likely that you’re harboring them in your home.
Dust mites are microscopic arthropods, the same species as spiders, that aren’t visible to the naked eye. They thrive on the tiny flakes of human skin that you naturally shed every day. Take these precautions if you’re allergic to dust mites to reduce your exposure:
- Use zippered, dust-proof covers on your mattresses and pillows to protect them from dust mites
- Use water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to wash your bedding
- Remove fabrics like curtains, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and down-filled bedding
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to maintain humidity at less than 50% in your home
- Use a “certified” asthma and allergy-friendly filter in your home HVAC system
Water damage or damp conditions can make mold grow inside your home. If you’re allergic to mold, contract with a professional service to test your home for mold to determine whether unhealthy mold levels in your home are triggering allergic reactions. The safe eradication of mold requires professional services to ensure the substance isn’t spread during its removal.
Reduce the effects of pet allergies
About 30% of people in the U.S. have an allergy to cats and dogs, though cat allergies occur about twice as often as dog allergies. You’re more likely to have any type of pet allergy if you have other allergies or asthma.
If you can’t avoid interaction with a pet in your home, limit your exposure by taking the following precautions:
- Thoroughly clean your bedroom and ban your pet from entering there at any time
- Opt for bare floors and walls so there are fewer places for animal dander and body fluids to stick
- Use vacuums and air cleaners that are “certified” asthma and allergy-friendly
- Rely on someone without pet allergies to groom and clean your pet and their bedding
Use medications as directed
Allergy medications can help you endure your body’s reaction to allergens. If you have seasonal allergies, taking your medication before pollen season can help you build up a tolerance before symptoms occur.
Depending on your specific allergies, medical history, and symptoms, your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Oral medications such as antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers that block the production of histamines, which cause common allergy symptoms
- Nasal corticosteroids in nose sprays
- Corticosteroids in creams, ointments, or oral medications
Depending on the type of allergy you experience, you may also benefit from immunotherapy. This treatment helps you become progressively less sensitive to a specific allergen over time. Immunotherapy can be delivered by allergy shots or sublingual tablets, which dissolve under your tongue.
Managing your allergies starts with identifying your allergens so you can reduce your exposure to the substances that trigger allergic reactions. Find out more about allergy testing and ways to control your allergies. Call our office to arrange a consultation today.