Environmental Allergies – Common Causes and Remedies

In recent years, anthropogenic climate change has led to proliferation of environment-related diseases. The allergies caused by environmental factors are a major health problem for tens of millions of people all over the world. Environmental allergies involve an immune response to something in your surroundings, including home, workplace and outdoor. In contrast to food allergies, environmental allergies are an immune overreaction to triggers you come into contact in the daily life. Many people with perennial allergies also show signs of mood disorders and anxiety. BetterHelp has more information on how to find a free therapist online.

The most common environmental allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold, cockroaches, cigarette smoke and pets. The major symptoms include itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue.

Sources of Environmental Allergies

The identification of environmental allergen is the foremost step in eliminating it and devising a treatment plan. Here are the most common environmental allergens you should be beware of:

1. Dust mites

Dust mites, the most common environmental allergen, are tiny microscopic creatures which live in furniture, mattresses, curtains and carpets. The allergic reaction is triggered by the inhalation of the waste products of dust mites which propels the immune system to produce antibodies against the otherwise harmless substances. The dust mites prefer warm and humid climates so your dust mite allergy may worsen in the summer months.

2. Pollen

Pollen is crucial for plant growth but can be fatal for people with allergies. During the spring, fall and summer seasons, plants release pollen grains which spreads through the air to fertilize plants of the same species. The allergic reaction is triggered when a vulnerable person inhales the pollen which is perceived as a threat by the body. The common sources of allergy-causing pollens are trees, grasses and weeds.

2. Pets

Dogs and cats are also a major cause of environmental allergies, with dander, urine and saliva being the common allergens. Usually, pet allergy is caused by tiny particles of dead skin shed by animals with furs and feathers. Animal saliva and urine can also trigger an allergic reaction. The best way to tackle a pet allergy is to avoid exposure to the animal.

4. Mold

Mold is a kind of fungus which propagates in moisture-laden environments, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements and gardens. Mold spores can travel the air and cause allergic reaction among susceptible people. There are numerous types of mold but only few of them are responsible for allergies.

5. Cigarette smoke

Passive smoking can be a source of allergies in many people. Exposure to cigarette smoke is associated with increase in allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. Infact, studies have shown that the use of tobacco may induce an immune response with increased exposure to allergens.

How to Deal with Environmental Allergies?

The oft-repeated phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ is the best way to deal with environmental allergens. Some of the popular ways to fight environmental allergies are:

  • Using an indoor air filter
  • Regular washing of bedsheets and vacuuming
  • Keeping your windows closed during the days of high pollen concentration
  • Preventing growth of mold in bathrooms, basements etc.
  • Keep your pets out of your bedroom
  • Practising good personal hygiene at home

It is advisable to see a doctor if you experience an allergic reaction on account of environmental factors. Usually, antihistamines like Cetirizine are the common OTC medicines prescribed by doctors. Saline nasal spray is also a good way to treat allergies caused by dust mites.

Among natural remedies, the use of essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil, may provide relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Another emerging method to fight environmental allergies is immunotherapy which is also known as allergy shots.

Conclusion

Environmental allergies are a source of discomfort for millions of people of world. The climate change crisis has increased the prevalence of environmental allergens in our surrounding, resulting in mild to fatal symptoms among vulnerable people. The best way to fight environmental allergies is to avoid or minimize exposure to common allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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