- 9 Habits That Make Allergies Worse
- 1. Stressful work deadlines
- 2. An extra glass of wine with dinner
- 3. Waiting too long to take meds
- 4. A not-hot-enough washing machine
- 5. Houseplants that make you sneeze
- 6. Skipping medication in the evening
- 7. Water workouts in an indoor pool
- 8. Friends who smoke
- 9. Showering in the AM only
- Allergies and the Immune System
- What is the immune system?
- How does a person become allergic?
- What is anaphylactic shock?
9 Habits That Make Allergies Worse
If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer (more than 50 million Americans are), you probably already have a few tricks to avoid triggers, not running outside when pollen counts are sky-high or keeping the windows closed in favor of the AC. But you may not know about these less obvious factors that can make symptoms worse. Here are 9 things making you miserable—and how to fight back. (For more cutting-edge health tips delivered straight to your inbox, !)
1. Stressful work deadlines
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Researchers at Ohio State University College of Medicine found that allergy sufferers had more symptoms after they took an anxiety-inducing test, compared with when they performed a task that did not make them tense.
Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, blood proteins that cause allergic reactions, says study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. If you’re under stress, get enough sleep. A sleep deficit can worsen both allergy symptoms and stress, she says. Check out these 100 simple strategies to sleep better every night.
(If you feel you're suffering from seasonal affective disorder, there is a promising new treatment you can read about from Prevention Premium.)
2. An extra glass of wine with dinner
Alcohol can raise the risk of perennial allergic rhinitis by 3% for every additional alcoholic beverage consumed each week, Danish researchers found. One potential reason: Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines, chemicals that cause telltale allergy symptoms stuffy nose and itchy eyes.
Avoid alcohol when your symptoms are acting up, says Richard F. Lockey, MD, director of the division of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. (Do you overdo it on the vino? Here are 6 sneaky signs you drink too much.)
3. Waiting too long to take meds
Medications that block histamines work best before you’re even exposed to allergens, says allergist James Sublett, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Start medication a couple of weeks before the season commences or before you’ll be around allergens (if you react to grass, before a golf game, for example).
4. A not-hot-enough washing machine
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If you find yourself sniffling in bed, crank your washing machine to the hottest setting.
In a South Korean study, laundering cotton sheets at 140°F killed 100% of dust mites, while a warm 104°F wash destroyed just 6.5%. A machine's «sanitize» setting is ly hot enough; check the manual if your model lacks this option.
(Make sure when it comes to laundry, you aren't making this super-common mistakes.) Some units heat water internally, but others use what flows through the pipes, so you may need to boost your water heater.
(Caution: This temp can scald in 5 seconds.)
5. Houseplants that make you sneeze
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Your innocent orchid could bring tears to your eyes. More than 75% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to at least one common houseplant, found a Belgian study.
Allergens in plant sap can diffuse into the air and set off your sniffling.
Though any potted greens can be trouble, researchers found that ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchid, and fern varieties are most irritating to allergy-prone people.
6. Skipping medication in the evening
One time not to forget your allergy meds? Before bed—so the medication will be circulating in your bloodstream early the next day.
Symptoms such as sneezing, weepy eyes, and runny nose peak in the morning, says Richard J. Martin, MD, chair of the department of medicine at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.
Choose regular (instead of nondrowsy formulas) for extra help falling asleep promptly.
7. Water workouts in an indoor pool
Chlorine-filled lap lanes can wreak havoc on your system. Used to disinfect, chlorine is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, says . And a recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that teens who log more than 100 hours in a chlorinated pool have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing hay fever, compared with swimmers who dunk in chlorine-free pools.
To reap the benefits of your water workout without wheezing and sneezing, consider wearing a mask or goggles when swimming to protect your eyes from chlorine's temporarily irritating effects.
Try to swim in outdoor pools, where the gas is more readily dispersed, instead of indoor ones, and avoid swimming in chlorinated pools daily.
(While you're in there, try this fat-blasting water workout.)
8. Friends who smoke
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Cigarettes—with their numerous toxic chemicals and irritants—are nasty for everyone, but allergy sufferers may be especially sensitive, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In fact, one Japanese study of teenage students found that more than 80% of those who came from homes where family members smoked heavily showed signs of nasal allergies.
Even if you don’t hang around smoky bars or other areas, particles on the clothing of smoking friends or coworkers can pollute the air in your home or office.
9. Showering in the AM only
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Hay fever sufferers would benefit from a quick rinse as soon as they get home from work or after being outside for a while, says allergist Stanley Fineman, MD, a physician at the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. That’s because hidden pollen particles can get trapped on your body, hair, clothes, and shoes—continuing to trigger symptoms after you’ve returned indoors.
If you’re prone to pollen allergies, slip off your shoes, throw your clothes in the hamper, and shower as soon as you get home to avoid dragging particles all over your home. (Here are even more solutions for seasonal allergy sufferers.)
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Allergies and the Immune System
- Allergies are the result of your immune system’s response to a substance.
- Immune responses can be mild, from coughing and a runny nose, to a life-threatening reaction know as anaphylaxis.
- A person becomes allergic when their body develops antigens against a substance. Upon repeated exposure the severity of the reaction may increase.
- Allergies affect people of all ages, races, genders and socioeconomic statuses.
Allergic disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. People with a family history of allergies have an increase risk of developing allergic disease. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy are some types of allergic diseases. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Allergic reactions begin in your immune system. When a harmless substance such as dust, mold, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may over react by producing antibodies that «attack» the allergen. The can cause wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, and other symptoms.
What is the immune system?
The purpose of the immune system is to defend itself and keep microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that do invade the body. The immune system is made up of a complex and vital network of cells and organs that protect the body from infection.
The organs involved with the immune system are called the lymphoid organs. They affect growth, development, and the release of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are important parts of the lymphoid organs. They carry the lymphocytes to and from different areas in the body.
Each lymphoid organ plays a role in the production and activation of lymphocytes.
Lymphoid organs include:
Adenoids (two glands located at the back of the nasal passages)
Appendix (a small tube that is connected to the large intestine)
Blood vessels (the arteries, veins, and capillaries through which blood flows)
Bone marrow (the soft, fatty tissue found in bone cavities)
Lymph nodes (small organs shaped beans, which are located throughout the body and connect via the lymphatic vessels)
Lymphatic vessels (a network of channels throughout the body that carries lymphocytes to the lymphoid organs and bloodstream)
Peyer's patches (lymphoid tissue in the small intestine)
Spleen (a fist-sized organ located in the abdominal cavity)
Thymus (two lobes that join in front of the trachea behind the breast bone)
Tonsils (two oval masses in the back of the throat)
How does a person become allergic?
Allergens can be inhaled, ingested, or enter through the skin. Common allergic reactions, such as hay fever, certain types of asthma, and hives are linked to an antibody produced by the body called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Each IgE antibody can be very specific, reacting against certain pollens and other allergens.
In other words, a person can be allergic to one type of pollen, but not another. When a susceptible person is exposed to an allergen, the body starts producing a large quantity of similar IgE antibodies. The next exposure to the same allergen may result in an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction will vary depending on the type and amount of allergen encountered and the manner in which the body's immune system reacts to that allergen.
Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Generally, allergies are more common in children. However, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age, or recur after many years of remission. Hormones, stress, smoke, perfume, or environmental irritants may also play a role in the development or severity of allergies.
What is anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shock, also called anaphylaxis, is a severe, life-threatening reaction to certain allergens. Body tissues may swell, including tissues in the throat.
Anaphylactic shock is also characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure. The following are the most common symptoms of anaphylactic shock. However, each person may experience symptoms differently.
Other symptoms may include:
Itching and hives over most of the body
Swelling of the throat and tongue or tightness in throat
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or cramps
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Loss of consciousness
Abnormal heart rate (too fast or too slow)
Anaphylactic shock can be caused by an allergic reaction to a drug, food, serum, insect venom, allergen extract, or chemical. Some people who are aware of their allergic reactions or allergens carry an emergency anaphylaxis kit that contains injectable epinephrine (a drug that stimulates the adrenal glands and increases the rate and force of the heartbeat).
For information about food allergies please visit the following pages:
Food allergies in children