Photo of Pine Tree PollenHere’s the simple truth…

If you have an allergy, you have an immune system disorder which results in many unwanted symptoms.

Airborne allergens are the biggest reason for what causes allergies and typical symptoms include watery eyes, itchiness and sneezing, as well as runny nose.

Most people who have allergies tend to experience symptoms when they react to particles which are airborne, such as pollen or dust.

For example, pollen is the main trigger for hay fever, which affects 30% of the worldwide population.

Below, we’ll shine some light on what causes allergy issues in people and give a few answers to the question “how can I stop allergies from happening?”

Why Do Allergies Happen?

Allergies happen due to environmental or host factors.

With host factors, a person will have a genetic predisposition to a specific allergy due to a disease which is inherited or a deficiency which is congenital.

Environmental factors occur when a person makes contact with an infectious disease or breathes in an allergen that is airborne.

In regards to genetic predisposition, research has shown that a mother or father who has an allergy may pass it down to their child. Additionally, the child may actually be more prone to the allergy and have a more severe reaction to it than the parent.

Environmental triggers for allergies are everywhere and some regions have more environmental triggers than others.

For example, those who live in China, which is known for its very high level of industrial production, may be more likely to suffer from allergies due to airborne pollution. In all countries, residents of cities will have higher risks of getting allergies versus those who live in rural areas because there are so many causes of allergy in the environment.

How to Diagnose Allergies

Unfortunately, allergies have the same symptoms as a lot of other health problems, which can make it tough to properly diagnose the problem.

Usually, doctors will try to exclude the presence of other health issues before diagnosing allergies.

One test which physicians may run if they do suspect that allergies are affecting patients is a skin test. Another common name for this test is “puncture testing.”

During the test, a patient’s arm will be pricked with very small amounts of common allergens. If the possible allergen triggers inflammation, the patient will be considered to be allergic to that substance.

Another method for finding out if a patient is allergic to something specific is blood testing. This test detects and measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies located within the blood cells.

Allergy blood tests screen for about ten common allergy causes, including dust, pet dander, tree pollen, grass, weeds and molds related to where you live.

Skin testing is the preferred method for diagnosing allergy causes, but a blood test may be required if any of the following are true:

  • You’re taking a medicine that is known to interfere with the test results, but you can’t stop using it, such as antihistamines, antidepressants and steroids.
  • You have a history of anaphylaxis, which could cause a life-threatening reaction to a skin test.
  • You have a severe skin condition, such as dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.
  • You have poorly controlled asthma
  • You have an unstable heart condition.

Pollen is a Common Allergy Trigger for Most People

In 2012, 17.6 million American adults were diagnosed with hay fever, which is an allergy caused by pollen. In 2014, this number raised to 19.1 million.

Pollen allergies are definitely on the rise and it wreaks havoc on the health of those who are unlucky enough to be allergic to it. In particular, regions with a lot of trees and flowers (both of which produce pollen) tend to trigger a lot of allergic reactions.

To minimize issues with pollen, many people find pollen count information for their areas on the Internet. If the pollen counts are very high, they may avoid outside activities until the pollen count goes back down. These forecasts are easy to find online. Just do a search for “city name + pollen count.”

How to Stop Allergies

There are many different ways to treat allergies. The best defense is a combination of prevention and treatment.

For example, someone who is allergic to pollen should do the follow to reduce their allergy symptoms:

There are also nasal sprays, such as Flonase, which may be used in the time period leading up to allergy season. When nasal sprays are used beforehand and during allergy season, they have the power to prevent a lot of unwanted symptoms.

Like all medications, antihistamines and anti-allergy nasal sprays may trigger side effects.

In general, side effects from over-the-counter allergy treatments, such as Reactine and Claritin, will be fairly mild. With prescription medications, it’s important to read the booklets that come with the medications in order to learn about their side effects.

For those of you who don’t like taking medications, there are ways to get relief at home in addition to using an air purifier. Check out our post on How to Control Allergies at Home to find out more.

Allergies symptoms can be improved, but if your allergy symptoms are severe, it’s best to see a doctor right away.