What are Environmental Allergies?

By: RandyYoumans

Comparison of environmental allergies and other allergies

An allergic reaction to something that is normally harmless in the environment can be called environmental allergies. Environmental allergies can cause symptoms such as sneezing and coughing.

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Because they are not caused by food, environmental allergies can be quite different from food allergies. Environmental allergies are caused by triggers that you encounter in your environment or inhale as a result of your daily activities.


Although symptoms of allergies to environmental substances can look similar to a common cold, they are not the same. An allergy is a reaction to your immune system.

Some symptoms of allergies to the environment include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Itching
  • Headaches
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue

Asthma symptoms can be life-threatening.

Seasonal allergies can make your symptoms worse at certain times of the year.

Common environmental allergens

Allergens are substances that cause your immune system to produce an allergic reaction. It is important to identify your allergens before you can develop a treatment plan. These are the five most common environmental allergens.

Dust mites

One of the most common indoor allergens is dust mites. These microscopic insects live in mattresses and furniture in your home. Your symptoms may be more severe in the spring and summer if you have a dust mite allergy. Dust mites love humid and warm environments.

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Another common allergen is pollen. You might experience symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes or itchy throat if you are allergic to pollen.

Pet dander

Common allergens are pet dander, pet saliva and pet saliva. Pet allergies can manifest as:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Hives

These symptoms may occur if you are around animals or in homes or cars where animals have been. If someone near you has dander, they may also have these symptoms.


If you have a mold allergy, mild to severe allergic reactions can be caused by mold spores. Mold allergy symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sneezing
  • itchy skin

Mold thrives in moist environments so symptoms can be more severe during damp months. Also, mold is common in bathrooms and basements.

Cigarette smoke

Many people have reported that smoking cigarettes can irritate their allergies and make them worse. Avoid secondhand smoke and smoking, especially if your allergies are severe.

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What are the signs and symptoms of environmental allergies?

An allergist should be consulted if you suspect you may have an allergy to environmental substances. They will ask questions about your symptoms, your family history, and medical history. They can then identify the allergens responsible for your symptoms using this information and allergy testing results.

Some allergy tests could include:

  • Skin prick test
  • Blood test

If your doctor suspects that you are allergic to a particular food, you can go on an elimination diet

Allergy testing identifies the allergens that are causing your symptoms. After your doctor has diagnosed your allergies, they will be able to recommend medications and treatment options.


Your doctor might recommend medication to treat your allergies after you have been diagnosed. Some people find relief with over-the-counter (OTC), medications such as an antihistamine.

Some medications can cause sleepiness. Talk to your doctor and read the warning labels before you decide which OTC medication is right for you. Cetirizine (Zyrtec), and loratadine, (Claritin), are both OTC antihistamines less likely to cause drowsiness.

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OTC antihistamines are more suitable for seasonal allergies because you don’t need to take them long term.