Allergy & Air on July 10, 2014 2 Comments If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you probably know all the typical triggers — exposure to pollen, dust mites, mold and animal dander. And you probably know to minimize your symptoms — staying indoors when pollen counts are high, using air conditioners instead of open windows, use a air purifier with a HEPA filter in your home, keeping pets out of your bedroom, and using a mask if you need to be outdoors. What you may not know is that allergy symptoms can be triggered or made worse by a variety of activities that seem to have little bearing on seasonal allergies. If your allergy symptoms don’t respond to conventional preventative and treatment measures, it might be due to one of these 12 uncommon triggers. 1. Lack of Sleep Allergies are caused when your immune system goes into overdrive, mistaking harmless stimuli (such as pollen) as a threat. It’s your immune system’s effort to attack this perceived threat that produces allergy symptoms. Anything that weakens your immune system may also increase allergy symptoms. 2. Your Daily Glass of Milk Suffering from a runny nose, cough and sore throat? You might want to reduce your dairy intake. Dairy products increase the creation of phlegm. Under normal conditions, that doesn’t matter much, but when you’re already struggling with allergies, dairy products may make those symptoms much worse. 3. Letting Yourself Get Dehydrated Your mom’s advice to drink plenty of liquids when you have a cold or the flu also applies when you’re struggling with allergies. Drinking plenty of water helps to thin the mucus in your nasal passages, which will help relieve congestion. 4. Enjoying Summer Fruits If you have grass or ragweed allergies, you might also suffer from oral allergy syndrome in which the body’s immune system mistakes proteins in some fruits for grass, tree and weed pollens. Apples, peaches, pears and melons are most likely to trigger this reaction, although other fruits can as well. You can still enjoy fruits, but do so in moderation, and stop if your throat becomes scratchy or your lips start to tingle. 5. Ignoring Food Allergies If you have a mild allergy to a food you love, you might be tempted to indulge occasionally. However, when you eat a food that you are allergic to or have an intolerance for, your body releases higher levels of histamines, which will increase allergy symptoms. 6. Letting Yourself Get Too Stressed Stress weakens the immune system and stimulates the production of blood proteins that can trigger allergic reactions, both of which make allergy symptoms worse. 7. A Glass of Wine with Dinner Yeast and bacteria in alcohol produce histamines, which will make your stuffy nose worse. Avoid alcohol during periods of high pollen counts or when your symptoms are at their worst. 8. Your Cookout Wood smoke can irritate the respiratory system and intensify allergic reactions. Try to stay downwind of the campfire and use extra-long sticks if you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows. 9. Your Shower Curtain Vinyl and PVC shower curtains are good environments for mold, and sometimes contain other chemicals that can worsen allergy symptoms. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of cloth, which is less hospitable to mold and can be easily washed. 10. Using Hair Products The mousse, gel and hairspray you use to tame your hair during hot, humid weather may also be trapping pollen on the surface of your hair. Wash your hair at night to remove any traces of pollen before sleeping, and wash your hair after spending significant time outside. 11. Your Clothes Outdoor pollens will stick to your shoes and clothes, so make it a habit to change clothes when you come into the house and to leave your shoes at the door (or, even better, on the porch). This is especially important if you have been doing yardwork. 12. Secondhand Smoke The chemicals and irritants in cigarette smoke may be especially irritating to allergy sufferers. Even particles of smoke on clothing or in the homes of your friends can trigger increased allergic reactions. It’s possible, and fairly simple, to remove the smoke from your indoor air.