10 Everyday Allergy Triggers

Are your watery eyes telling you to stay away from grass and pollen? If this is allergy season for you, it may help to at least minimize your suffering when you’re indoors. Dr. Uma Gavani, an allergy and immunology specialist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, lists her top 10 mostly avoidable allergy aggravators:

  1. Alcohol. Red wine and beer often contain histamine, the chemical your body releases when you react to allergens. Histamine causes headaches and can worsen allergies.
  2. Certain snacks. Sauerkraut, smoked meats and cheeses like Swiss and Gouda can also make allergies worse.
  3. Smoke. Whether first-hand or second-hand, cigarette smoke and the chemicals in the smoke irritate the mucus membranes.
  4. Scents. Through smell and touch, fragrances found in candles, perfumes and cleaning/laundry supplies can cause headaches and worsen allergy symptoms.
  5. Chlorine. People with allergies are often sensitive to chlorine, which can irritate the respiratory tract and the skin.
  6. House plants. Ficus, yucca, ivy and palm trees are just some of the indoor plants that can release pollen and collect mold and dust in their soil. If you keep plants, toss dead leaves and regularly wipe the healthy leaves to prevent and remove mold.
  7. Fruits and vegetables. They’re good for you, but carrots, apples, oranges, celery, kiwi, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini and melon are among the fruits and vegetables that can contribute to oral allergy syndrome (OAS), an allergy that also can be triggered by nuts.
  8. Clothing. If you break out in a rash or hives, you could be sensitive to a dye or chemical in the fabric of your clothing—something metal like a zipper or buckle—or even your laundry product, all of which have been known to cause contact dermatitis.
  9. Contact Lenses. Pollen can get trapped between the lens and the eye, so glasses or disposable contact lenses may be your best bet during allergy season.
  10. Pets. Even if you’re not among the 15 percent of people who are generally allergic to animals, you may be a victim of the “priming effect,” which means that pet dander irritates you only when you’re already congested from pollen.

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