Six Surprising Allergy Triggers

by Wellness Editor – MH

Whether they are due to pet dander, foods or plants, allergies can easily make a routine day feel more like an endurance test. Far too many people are familiar with the telltale signs of an allergy flare-up – the swollen nasal passages, the sneezing, a sore throat and the mounds and mounds of discarded tissues. In fact, approximately 55 percent of Americans are allergic to at least one substance, and allergies drain nearly 8 billion dollars from the US economy every single year.

In most cases, allergy sufferers are generally aware of what triggers their allergies, and take reasonable steps to avoid them. You would be hard pressed to find someone with a peanut allergy eating a peanut butter sandwich, and it’s doubtful that a person allergic to pet dander would own a dog that sheds frequently. Not all allergy triggers, however, are this obvious. Below are some common items that can be the unexpected source of allergic reactions.


Stuffed Toys – Little kids just love stuffed animals. Unfortunately, so do dust mites. These microscopic bugs (yes, dust mites are actually bugs) often turn stuffed animals into their own personal colony, as the inner contents of these toys provide them with a warm and cozy home. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to evict them; simply wash them in hot water (140°F should do the trick) and let them dry. To be absolutely sure that the dust mites have been wiped out, you might consider putting stuffed toys back in the washing machine for a second run though.

The problem with this tactic is that some stuffed toys can’t be washed. If this is the case, there is an effective (though somewhat strange) alternative. Dust mites need a warm environment to survive; cold temperatures, on the other hand, prove quite inhospitable to these microscopic pests. You can take advantage of this weakness by placing dirty toys in plastic bags inside your freezer; within a few hours, the dust mites should be eliminated. This should keep stuff toys relatively clear of dust mites for two to three weeks.


Candles – While it’s been quite a while since candles were used primarily as a source of light, many people still enjoy them for the various aromas they produce. This often can’t be said of those with nasal allergies, who can get runny noses and watery eyes after getting too close to scented candles. For some people, this problem can only be solved by completely removing scented candles from their home. Others are able to tolerate candles that contain few ingredients and emit only one scent.


Perfume – The morning ritual of millions of women includes spraying perfume on their bodies. Various perfume scents may be alluring to many people, but to some allergy sufferers it’s simply a sneeze-inducing nuisance. Aside from sneezing, those who are allergic to perfume can also experience congestion and headaches.


Soap – Allergies don’t just affect the nasal passages and throat; it is quite common for people to experience allergic reactions on their skin for a variety of reasons. These rashes can result from a number of factors; some foods and illnesses can induce skin rashes, as can certain medications. Skin allergies can also flare up if the skin comes into contact with various products, including some kinds of soap. Adverse reactions to soap can often be attributed to scent-enhancing additives. This problem can be avoided by purchasing unscented soaps and/or soaps that are additive-free.


Carpets – Carpeting can do wonders for a room’s appearance, but it can also send your allergies into overdrive. The reason for this is that carpets, like stuffed toys, can house lots of dust mites. Unlike with stuffed animals, it can be very challenging to root out dust mites from carpets. Even regularly vacuuming a carpet will not fully rid it of dust mites. One option that might help is to reduce the humidity inside your home to under 50 percent. As mentioned earlier, dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments, so depriving them of some humidity may limit their numbers. If dust mites prove to be too much of a problem, it may be necessary to remove the carpeting entirely.


Spices – Spices are valued worldwide for their ability to add flavor to dishes, but they can cause adverse health effects in some unsuspecting dinner patrons. Some spices that can trigger allergy problems include pepper, paprika, saffron, poppy seeds and coriander. Allergic reactions to spices can vary widely from person to person; some diners may experience itching, swelling and burning sensations in their lips. Others may simply get a minor case of the sniffles.

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