It was reported that 20% of Americans suffer from allergies. There are many different factors that cause allergies in people, and these allergies can be triggered by just about any substance within these people’s immediate environment.
But what is an allergy? An allergy, basically, is any abnormal reaction of the body’s immune system to a particular substance, called an allergen. The reaction occurs when the allergy trigger is present in the allergic person’s surroundings. The allergic episodes can be mild, manifesting only as hives, skin redness or itching, but sometimes, an allergic reaction can be fatal.
Given that a fifth of the American population suffers from one form of allergy or another, what are the most common allergens that trigger allergic reactions in the United States? Here are ten.
1. Pollens. Pollens are the number one allergy triggers in the United States. Pollens are produced by vegetation trees, grass and flowering plants – and are spread by air. When inhaled, they cause a reaction on people who are allergic to them. Most plant life release pollen into the air from spring to autumn, but there are also some plants that produce pollen in winter.
2. Animal hair. As lovable as dogs and cats are, the oil they secrete to coat their hair contains protein that can cause allergic reactions. The sad thing about it is that allergy to animal dander can develop over time and can end the relationship between a pet and its master.
3. Dust mites. Dust mites live in the dust that collect in homes and workplaces. They cannot be seen by the naked eye, and they feed on bacteria, fungi and dead skin cells in dust balls. The proteins that their waste products contain can cause allergic reactions.
4. Insect bites. An insect stings or bites as part of its defensive mechanism. However, when an insect bites, it leaves proteins in the skin that are also allergy triggers for some people. The allergy can manifest as mild swelling and itchiness, but it can also be life-threatening for some people.
5. Mold. Mold develops on damp and dark areas. When mold spores are touched or inhaled, they irritate the air tract and cause allergic reactions. Molds act almost the same way as pollens do, except that they persist even in sub-freezing temperatures.
6. Food. Some people are predisposed to developing allergies to food such as shellfish, peanuts, wheat and milk. Such people produce antibodies against the substances found in the food they are allergic to. When they eat this food, their antibodies release histamine and trigger allergic reactions. You can use food intolerance testing kits to identify possible food intolerance of your body for 96 different food types.
7. Latex. Latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, and this sap contains proteins that can be an allergy trigger for some people. When these people come in contact with latex, they immediately show an allergic reaction. This can be problematic, given that many items used in the health care business are made of latex.
8. Medicine. Some people have immune systems that are not friendly with substances found in some drugs, like penicillin and salicylates. When these people ingest medicine containing these allergens, they can break out.
9. Perfume. There are people who cannot stand the smell of perfume, no matter how good the perfume smells. The chemicals in the perfume irritate the lining of their nose and trigger the allergy.
10. Cockroaches. Cockroaches are creepy; nobody likes them. But more than that, the proteins that their feces contain can irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction.
How can one avoid reactions to allergy triggers? One should keep a clean house, watch out for symptoms and consult a doctor.