Adult Allergies 101

The more you know about indoor and outdoor allergies, the more you can help us protect your family throughout the year.

Allergies can occur seasonally or year-round. The fancy name for seasonal allergies is seasonal allergic rhinitis, but it’s most commonly known as hay fever.

Hay fever can occur in conjunction with the release of pollen by different trees or grasses during certain times of the year — most commonly in the spring. Other allergens, like mold, are not seasonal and can cause symptoms at any time.

Common outdoor and indoor particles that trigger your allergies

Technically, an allergen is anything that causes an allergic reaction. Here are some
of the most common ones and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Dust mites

Microscopic dust mites can be a year-round cause of allergies and asthma. They live in furniture, bedding, and carpet and cannot be eliminated by vacuuming alone. Steam cleaning and dry cleaning can eliminate most dust mites, as well as washing items like bedding in very hot water.


Mold is a multi-celled fungus, similar to mushrooms. It is capable of growing both indoors and out, and requires only a damp surface to thrive. Indoors, mold is often found in places like the kitchen, bathroom, and basement. Using a dehumidifier or space heater in damp areas can help reduce mold growth.

Pet dander

Most pet allergies are caused by a protein in the pet’s dead skin, saliva, and urine. These proteins can stick to clothing, carpet, and even walls. Pet allergens can be reduced in the home with regular cleaning. It is also helpful to keep pets away from the bedroom.


Pollens are the tiny reproductive cells of plants. Many trees, grasses, and low-growing weeds produce small, light pollens that are easily airborne. Symptoms can be reduced by staying indoors when the pollen count is high, and using a central air-conditioning system that recirculates air.


Ragweed can produce 1 billion grains of pollen per season and is able to travel hundreds of miles on the wind. It is often responsible for late summer and early fall symptoms. Consider using this time of year to enjoy indoor activities or vacation in an area with fewer ragweed plants.


Mold is a multi-celled fungus. It is capable of growing both indoors and out, and requires only a damp surface to thrive. Outdoors, mold can be found on dead plant matter. When working outside, a dust mask can help reduce symptoms.

Moving a pet, like a cat or dog, to another
room when someone with allergies visits will keep
that person from having a reaction.

Pet allergies are caused by a protein found mainly in the pet’s skin and dander. This dander sticks to walls, furniture, and carpet and can cause a reaction even if the pet is not present.

What’s going on inside your body?

Your body’s immune system identifies allergens as intruders, and tackles them by releasing several chemicals, one of which is histamine. The most important early-phase defense against allergens, histamine is what causes most allergy symptoms.

Sneezing, congestion, itchy or watery eyes, and a runny nose can be signs that more histamine has been released than your body can handle. Leukotrienes, which play a role in your body’s late-phase defense, can cause nasal congestion and other allergy symptoms, too.


Inhaling pollen or other allergens can irritate your nose and trigger a release of histamine, causing you to sneeze.

Runny nose

When pollen or other allergens irritate your nose, it may produce more mucus than normal to get rid of the allergen, causing your nose to run.

Itchy, watery eyes

Pollen entering the eyes often causes them to become itchy and/or watery. It is important to be vigilant when cleaning contact lenses, as pollen and other irritants can stick. Flushing the eyes with eye drops can also help reduce symptoms.


Congestion is the result of allergens or other foreign materials entering the nose. When irritated, nasal tissues and blood vessels swell with excess fluid, leaving you with a “stuffy” feeling.

Allergies, Cold, or Flu?

Some symptoms may trick us, making it difficult to tell what’s causing them. While allergies have some pretty distinctive symptoms that set them apart, it is hard to tell the difference between cold and flu viruses without a doctor’s help. However, the severity of the symptoms experienced can be a good indicator of what’s going on.

We’ve sorted the most common allergy, cold, and flu symptoms into this nifty graph to help you get a better idea of the situation.

If your symptoms persist, though, and you’re still not sure what’s making you feel bad, be sure to consult a doctor. Feel better!

Help us help you by reducing the amount of allergens in your home with these tips:

Allegra offers a wide range of prescription-strength allergy medicines to relieve allergy symptoms. Allegra and Allegra-D are now available over the counter, and they can help you get the allergy relief you need.

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