10 Unexpected Spring Allergy Triggers
Avoiding the classic allergens, like pollen and grass, will only get you so far. To breathe easy in the spring, you’ll need to be aware and fight off these unexpected allergy triggers:
- Fruits: When pollen counts in your immune system are high, your body is programmed to attack anything that resembles your allergens even slightly, says Anju Peters, MD, associate professor of medicine in allergy and immunology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. For those with pollen-food allergy syndrome, eating fruit can worsen allergies.
- Alcohol: According to Swedish research, those with hay fever, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and COPD are far more likely to experience allergy symptoms. Wine might be a bigger trigger than other booze, Dr. Peters says.
- Stress: Small amounts of stress can increase the body’s levels of allergy-triggering proteins, as well as the “stress hormone cortisol can compromise your immune system, wear you down, and make it difficult for your body to recuperate from the season’s onslaught of allergens, Dr. Peters says.”
- Hair Products: Clifford Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, says, “Hair gels and pastes cause the hair to become a pollen magnet.” Using as little as possible will prevent an allergy flare up.
- Thunderstorms: Large amounts of rain can increase and stir up pollen levels. “In fact,” Dr. Bassett says, “thunderstorms are linked with a greater incidence of asthma-related hospitalizations.”
- Rising Humidity: Humidity can bring dust mites, which can cause sneezing, itchy nose, runny eyes, and other symptoms similar to seasonal allergies. Using a dehumidifier can keep humidity levels low and keep dust mites from reproducing.
- Overwatered Houseplants: Overwatering plants can cause mold and mildew to grow in their soil, which can increase indoor allergies. Instead of watering by trial and error, find out how much water your plants need and stick to that.
- Ceiling Fans: Between indoor allergies, as well as outdoor ones that are brought in the home, turning on a ceiling fan will just swirl all those allergens around.
- Spring Cleaning: It can “dramatically increase exposure to allergens found in normally settled ‘house dust,’ which contains dust mites, cockroach and mouse allergens, furry pet allergens, and mold spores,” Sublett says. Try to get a loved one or roommate to deep clean the house when you are not there, if not, invest in a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
- Your Dog: After being outside, your dog can bring in pollen and other allergens into the home. Try bathing your furry friend regularly.