How to Manage Allergies and When to Get Tested
If you’ve been dealing with allergies, you may be wondering where they’re coming from. Could it be your family pet, your favorite food or tree pollen?
According to Dr. Nathan Keith Waldrep, assistant chief medical officer for BayCare Ambulatory Services, there are various indoor and outdoor allergens that can trigger your allergies, causing you to sneeze, wheeze and get a runny nose.
That’s why Dr. Waldrep helps explain allergies and provide some tips and tricks that can help reduce exposure to your allergic triggers.
While many know allergy or asthma can occur outdoors, Dr. Waldrep says many things inside your home such as mold, perfume, smoking, dust mites, cockroaches, rodents and even your family pet can cause serious allergy problems. Other things that cause allergies include carpet, soft furniture, stuffed toys, pillows and bedding, mattresses and indoor plants. These allergens can cause red, watery or itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion and asthma.
However, there are some easy, day-to-day steps you can take to help control allergens in your home.
“Clean your home surfaces regularly, remove wall-to-wall carpets, change air conditioner filters often, use air purifiers, wash your bedding once a week and vacuum your entire home at least twice a week using high-efficiency vacuums,” says Dr. Waldrep. “Maintaining these cleaning practices can help kill dust mites and prevent allergens from going back in the air and into your system.”
If you have allergies, animal dander or skin cells coming from feathers or fur can cause symptoms. Pets such as dogs and cats release skin flakes and fur, causing you to constantly sneeze and have congestion and a runny nose.
If you have a pet, Dr. Waldrep recommends doing a few things to control your allergy symptoms. “Keep your pets out of your bedroom, wash your pet often and keep its furniture and toys clean. Also, bathe and brush your pet weekly in warm water and soap. You should also consider wearing a mask when grooming your pet.” he said.
If allergies are consistent, you should speak to your physician about getting tested and what treatments work for you and your symptoms.
Outdoor environments can help trigger allergies, especially during springtime. Tree pollen and other allergens, which typically start in February and last through early summer, can trigger symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Pollen is an airborne allergen that is released as small particles stemming from blooming trees and flowers, grass and weeds.
If you have seasonal allergies, it’s important to monitor pollen levels daily. Dr. Waldrep recommends limiting your time outdoors when pollen is high and keep the indoor air clean as much as possible.
“If you work outside or in the yard, you should remove your clothes, shower and clean your hair, eyes and eye lashes,” says Dr. Waldrep. “Also, keep your windows closed at home and when driving. You should also wear a mask when doing any outdoor work.”
If allergies persist, ask your physician about getting tested and what treatments could potentially work for you.
Food allergies affect millions of adults and children every year. Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, including hives, vomiting, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, swelling of tongue, tight throat, weak pulse and pale or blue skin. Many types of food can cause allergic reactions, but typically products like eggs, milk and dairy, tree nuts (such as walnut, hazelnut, peanut cashew), fish, shellfish, wheat and soy, can cause an adverse reaction.
“You should avoid consuming food that triggers your allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Waldrep. “It’s also important to read ingredient labels of food products before consuming them. You may also want to read beauty and cleaning products labels, as they may contain tree nut extracts or wheat proteins.”
If you think you’re allergic to any food items, talk to your health care provider about getting tested and discuss a treatment plan that works for your specific needs.
To find out what’s causing your symptoms, it’s important to talk to your primary care physician or visit BayCare Urgent Care, BayCareAnywhere or BayCare Walk-In Care about getting tested for allergies. BayCare Laboratories offer a full range of allergy testing, including allergies related to pollen, tree nuts, pets and more, at all of its locations across the Tampa Bay area. By getting a simple allergy blood test, you’ll be able to uncover what could be causing your symptoms and what allergic triggers to avoid.
For more information, visit BayCareLabs.org.