Health Topics Information

Understanding Allergies

Understanding Allergies

What are allergies?
Allergies “Allergic rhinitis”, is a common allergic reaction that causes inflammation in the lining of the nose.

Signs and Symptoms
The most common nasal allergy symptoms are sometimes confused for the common cold. Allergic rhinitis signs and symptoms usually occur in 2 phases.

  • Early-Phase Allergic Rhinitis:
    • Runny nose
    • Nasal itching
    • Sneezing
    • Nasal swelling
  • Late-Phase Allergic Rhinitis:
    • Congestion
    • Sneezing
    • Runny nose

What Triggers Nasal Allergy Symptoms?
People with nasal allergies are sensitive to certain substances called allergens. Allergy triggers vary from person to person and they can be seasonal or year-round.

  • Seasonal Triggers
    • Pollen – microscopic particles released from trees, grasses, or weeds
    • Outdoor molds
  • Year-Round Triggers
    • Dust mites – tiny insects that live in house dust
    • Animal dander – skin scales that furry or feathery pets shed
    • Mold spores – released from molds that for in warm, damp, dark places

Avoiding Allergy Triggers
Take steps to limit your exposure to allergy triggers. These tips can make it easier to live with seasonal and year-round allergies.

Tips for Avoiding Pollen:

  • Check pollen counts every day in your area to find out when they are high. You can visit the National Allergy Bureau at
  • Stay indoors and close your windows when pollen counts in your area are high.
  • Use an air conditioner at home and in your car on days when the pollen count is high.

Tips for Avoiding Mold Spores:

  • Keep all rooms clean and dry to prevent mold from forming.
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp rooms.
  • Keep plants out of your bedroom.

Tips for Avoiding Dust Mites:

  • Use allergy-proof covers on your box spring, mattress, and pillows.
  • Remove as many “dust collectors” from your bedroom as possible.
  • Vacuum your house often to remove dust mites from the carpet and furniture.

Tips for Avoiding Animal Dander:

  • Avoid contact with furry or feathery pets (e.g. cat, dog, bird) when possible.
  • If you own a furry or feathery pet, it is best to keep the pet out of your bedroom (and out of the house, if possible).

(Missy Lutman, BS RRT, CTTS, is a Respiratory Care Manager at CHI St. Alexius Health.)