Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, is your body’s response to allergens. While the most common trigger for allergic rhinitis is pollen, there are other substances that can prompt symptoms as well. Below we review how allergies occur and what substances can cause allergic rhinitis symptoms.
How Do Allergies Occur?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for the 8% of U.S. adults with allergic rhinitis, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen, dust, mold and pet dander as a dangerous intruder. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Common Triggers for Allergic Rhinitis
Below are common triggers for allergic rhinitis.
Pollen is a yellow, waxy or powdery substance produced by flowering trees, grasses and weeds at Septima Clark Park. Pollen season typically lasts from late February, when trees begin to pollinate, through summer as grass pollenates and into mid-fall when weeds pollenate.
Pollen counts are higher on dry, windy days; in fact, wind can carry pollen for hundreds of miles, meaning you could be reacting to a type of pollen that’s not even in your area!
To avoid pollen allergies, we recommend staying indoors with the windows shut when pollen counts are high.
It’s a common misconception that dust causes allergies, when in fact it’s the enzymes in the fecal pellets of dust mites that trigger a response. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that belong to the arachnid family – the same class as spiders, ticks and scorpions. They thrive in carpets and bedding and feed on dead skin cells.
Allergic rhinitis can be triggered by mold spores, which can be found indoors like in kitchens, bathrooms and basements, or outdoors in piles of compost, leaves or grass. Mold spores float in the air, and when breathed in can cause allergy or asthma symptoms.
Animals that have fur or feathers shed microscopic skin cells called dander. The proteins found in this dander can trigger allergy symptoms for some. For more information about the causes of allergic rhinitis or to schedule an allergy test, call Charleston ENT & Allergy today.