Environmental Allergies










About Environmental Allergies



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Environmental allergies are those allergies that occur when an individual reacts to an allergen in their physical environment. These are reactions that can be taken to mean indoor allergens, such as dust mites, and outdoor allergens, such as tree pollen, grass, and weed pollen. Another name for environmental allergies is inhalant allergies, as typically the source of the problem is something that is breathed-in.

Inhalant allergies are often triggered by substances which are outside of a person’s control, making them particularly problematic and frustrating to cope with. With a food allergy for example, an individual may have to stop consuming a particular food item, such as peanuts, and they may need to become extremely cautious about eating at restaurants. However, those individuals are able to freely eat other foods and they are able to enjoy both their home and outdoor spaces. People who suffer from inhalant allergies, however, may not be as able to eliminate the source of their reactions.



Common Triggers



There are a number of common sources of allergens which trigger environmental reactions. Prime offenders include pollution, pollens, dust, mold spores, animal dander, and perfumes. Another concern when an individual experiences inhalant allergies is that he or she may suffer from a syndrome known as multiple chemical sensitivity, where the interaction of various chemicals or particles can create a mixture of substances that altogether causes a new allergic reaction in an individual.



Symptoms



Environmental allergies tend to manifest in much the same way as a variety of other allergies, although these inhalant allergies do generally result in symptoms that affect the respiratory system. Symptoms can range from very mild to debilitating, depending on an individuals health, the number and volume of allergens a person is exposed to, and other factors that affect the severity of a reaction.

A mild environmental allergic reaction might include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, headache, hives, diarrhea or nausea. A more severe reaction could include extreme difficulty in breathing, with compromised lung function or intense pressure causing significant pain and inability to function normally. In rare situations inhalant allergies may lead to an anaphylactic reaction, which is life-threatening and would need immediate treatment to prevent death.



Treatment



Each type of allergen has its own particular concerns and methods of treatment. Some are much easier to cope with than others, but with the right knowledge most sufferers can reduce their symptoms and improve the quality of their lives.

In the case of pollution, allergies result from exposure to chemicals in the atmosphere, such as car exhaust or smog. The best way to manage an allergy to pollution is to avoid spending time in congested areas. Portable air filters may be of assistance if the pollutants are found in your home or work space. Now, let's look at some typical medications for controlling inhalant allergies.

Oral antihistamines are common medication for inhalant allergies. They block the histamine in our bodies that cause many of our allergy symptoms. There are the “older” antihistamines which can cause drowsiness, and newer antihistamines known as second generation types. We’ll take a look at the older ones first.

Some of the older, original antihistamines include:

  • Benadryl
  • Dimetapp
  • Tavist
  • Chlor-Trimeton



The second generation, or nonsedating antihistamines include some of the following:

  • Zyrtec
  • Claritin
  • Clarinex
  • Allegra



Although we have mentioned medications first, we do believe there are natural methods of controlling allergies that are quite effective. For example, our experience with quercetin has been that it is a wonderful natural antihistamine that dries-up excess mucus quite effectively. It is sold in health food stores and is reasonable priced. Another natural treatment we have found to be effective is NAET, or the Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique. The link for this approach is provided above.






Types of Inhalant Allergies



Pollens are generally a seasonal inhalant allergen. If you notice that your allergies become worse in the spring, for example, become informed about the particular pollens that thrive in that season, such as ragweed, grasses, or tree pollens. Avoidance is an effective method of coping with seasonal environmental allergies, although it can be unpleasant to have to avoid spending time out of doors during certain months. The more closely you can identify a particular allergen, the better able you may be to avoid exposure to that allergen while still enjoying favorite outdoor activities.

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Dust is an environmental allergy that causes a great deal of trouble for many people. Although, in all fairness, the dust itself is not the only culprit involved. A significant player in dust allergies is the dust mite, a tiny and fearsome looking organism whose waste products often cause significant allergic symptoms. A large proportion of people who are allergic to dust are also allergic to dust mite excrement and vice versa. It is also possible to have a combination allergy consisting of dust, dust mites, and dust mite excrement. Although traditional, blood type allergy tests do not identify combination allergies, a doctor who practices muscle testing, such as an NAET doctor, can tell you if you have this type of allergy.

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Dust, which consists of numerous components including dead skin cells, hair, and flock (small particles of carpeting and fabric), is a ubiquitous factor in most people’s homes. It is almost impossible to completely eliminate dust from your home, but you can greatly reduce the volume. Steps to take in order to minimize dust include the following. Consider replacing carpets with flooring options such as linoleum or tile. In bedrooms, make sure that all bedding is washed at least weekly and put allergy-grade covers on mattresses and pillows. A high-quality vacuum should be utilized as often as possible, and furnishings such as couches or curtains need to be vacuumed in addition to your floors. A proper vacuum allergy filter, such as a hepa, should be used on the vacuum to prevent re-release of the allergens into the environment.

Mold spores are another common inhaled allergen which cause environmental allergies to flare-up. Mold spores are microscopic in size and may be found both in and out of doors. Mold is a part of the fungus family and the spores can easily become airborne, unfortunately leading them to your nasal passages. Mold levels peak in late summer and early fall, meaning their effects are often felt seasonally. Some ways to control mold in your home environment are to keep doors and windows closed, fix any leaking water, try to minimize humidity, and utilize a hepa air filter or purifier.

Animal dander is another commonly inhaled irritant that can cause environmental allergies. Pet owners may be pleased to know that while getting rid of or avoiding animals is the best solution for coping with pet dander allergies, with certain cleaning routines a beloved pet may be kept and tolerated. The first thing to do is to keep the pet away from the bedroom of the affected individual, as the amount of time spent sleeping, and therefore inhaling pet dander, is significant. Frequent vacuuming of the house and bathing of the pet will also improve the environment and should reduce the symptoms experienced.

Perfumes and scented products create significant allergy problems for some people. A common symptom of allergy to perfumes is headaches, both mild or severe. Avoiding scented products can actually be quite a challenge, as nowadays so many products contain perfumes – everything from hairspray to dish soap. Individuals who suffer from this particular allergy may want to become involved in action groups that work to increase society’s awareness of the potential devastating effects of such allergies. Some workplaces or other public places are starting to take notice and may put policies in place limiting the use of scent-based products, leading to cleaner air for everyone.



Conclusion



Environmental allergies run a real gamut – from household dust, to various pollens, to outdoor chemical pollution. While most of the offending substances are quite widespread and hard to avoid, the use of hepa air filters, proper cleaning techniques, and a true awareness of your surroundings, can assist sufferers in reducing the amount of allergen they are exposed to and reducing the severity of their symptoms.