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What Causes Environmental Allergies?

What causes seasonal allergies?

Most notably tree pollens, such as oak in spring; grass pollens in early summer; ragweed and weed pollens in fall; and outdoor mold, depending on the humidity, storms and windy conditions; contribute to seasonal allergies.

What are the common causes of indoor allergens? Why do I have allergy symptoms all year?

Pet dander, dust, dust mites, cockroaches, indoor molds from damp basements, high indoor humidity, leaky roofs, or poor insulation contribute to indoor allergies, which can affect a person year round.

How are these allergies diagnosed and treated?

An accurate medical history along with a skin test, and in some special circumstances, a blood test, is used to make a diagnosis. Allergen avoidance, although not practical in all cases, is the best treatment. Medications also are available.

Preventive care before onset of seasonal allergies works best for some patients while taking as-needed medications helps others. In some cases, allergy immunotherapy is the only successful treatment.

What are the long-term consequences of untreated allergy symptoms?

Many allergy sufferers also have eye symptoms, sinus issues, asthma, ear problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, or worsening of eczema. Children can be irritable or have difficulty concentrating. Symptoms can affect quality of life. If left unaddressed, allergies can lead to sinus surgeries, among other conditions. It’s important to manage allergies so you can participate in and enjoy outdoor activities.

Dr. Subramanian is a board-certified allergist on staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. She earned her medical degree in India and completed her medical training and fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine.

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