Allergic Reactions At Home

Allergic Reactions At Home to Chemicals and Other Common Household Substances

Allergic Reactions At Home Overview

Around the year, millions of people are affected by allergic reactions at home. The most common indoor allergens include dust, dust mites, mold spores, animal (pet) dander, and cockroaches.

The symptoms of allergy (sneezing, a runny nose, etc.) occur when your body decides that certain chemicals called allergens are harmful to your body. Responding to allergens, some human bodies produce the defender chemicals called antibodies. Such allergic antibodies are actually Immunoglobin E (IgE) molecules. [1]

The antibodies travel to the part of body exposed to allergens and react there. This causes allergic symptoms to occur. Almost all the allergic conditions occur due to the same reason i.e. antibodies reacting to allergens.

The following is the detail of the types of allergic reactions that can occur in the home environment.

What Are The Different Allergens In Your Home?

Dust Mites

Dust Mites are tiny organisms that cannot be seen with naked eye. They cause allergic and asthma symptoms in many people.

Dust Mites are present everywhere in the house but they are concentrated in warm and humid places. Their common habitats in the house include beds, carpets, and upholstered furniture.

Pets (Fur)

People are not allergic to pet hair, but can be allergic to the allergens in dander, saliva, urine or fur.

Cockroaches

While cockroaches are irritating, they can be allergic to many people. Cockroaches contain a protein that acts as an allergen. Their feces, saliva, and shedding body parts contain that protein, causing allergy when exposed to.

Mold

When a person is allergic to such fungi, his/her immune system can be oversensitive to these allergens, and consequently the person will develop allergic symptoms.

Allergic Reactions At Home: Mold

What Are the Possible Reactions and Symptoms to Indoor Allergens?

  • Dust mite allergy is due to the proteins in the debris (feces and decaying bodies) of dust mites. This allergy can either cause symptoms of nasal passage inflammation or asthma. The symptoms include itchy, red, or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, and other symptoms of asthma [2].
  • Symptoms of pet-related allergy can appear instantly with short term exposure. Exposure for longer periods can cause chronic symptoms. In some people, symptoms may start growing and are at their highest after 8 to 12 hours of animal contact.
    Pet-related allergy symptoms are similar to those of dust mite allergy.
  • Cockroach allergy shows similar symptoms with the inclusion of skin rashes, ear infections, and itchy skin, eyes, throat, or nose.
  • Mold allergy causes the same symptoms that occur with other sorts of upper respiratory allergies. These include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough, itchy and watery eyes, itchy nose and throat, and dry, scaly skin.
    Mold allergy with asthma can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.

What Are the Triggers of Different Allergic Reactions At Home?

The causes of allergic reactions at home are similar at the microscopic level. All of them are caused by an overreaction to some protein molecule. The oversensitivity to the allergic protein molecule makes the release of antibodies possible. The antibodies go to the sites of allergen exposure and react with them, causing the symptoms to occur.

In most allergies, it’s not the allergen that is actually harmful, it’s the symptom(s) that is dangerous.

Preventative Measures

There are a number of preventive measures [3] that you can follow to avoid indoor allergies.

  • Bedroom: Wash the bedsheets and pillow cases at least once a week and if possible, use heated water (130 F) for this purpose. Remove the carpets if any because they are the breeding sites and perfect habitat for dust mites and molds. Use furniture that is easy to clean. Use washable curtains. Keep your door and windows closed in the pollen season. Remove the extra clutter in your room including the decorations, ornaments, kids’ toys, and the read magazines. Install an air filter and adjust it over your head when you sleep so that you get the purified air.
  • Living Room: While exercising all the applicable measures described above, consider changing your upholstered sofas with leather exterior sofas so that the dust can be removed easily. Don’t use your living room for planting. Stop using wood-burning fireplaces and replace them with natural gas, as smoke from wood can worsen respiratory allergies.
  • Kitchen: Clean the cabinets regularly and close the opened boxes. Use tools to close the crevices from where cockroaches can enter. Cockroaches depend on water so fix the taps and don’t let water stay open in the kitchen. Use traps to eradicate them. Put the garbage in an insect-proof can and empty the trash daily. Avoid mold growth in the refrigerator by wiping off the excess water.
  • Bathroom: Towel-dry the bathtub after usage and install an exhaust fan to remove moisture in air. Beware of the water leakage from the taps.
  • Pets: Groom your pets regularly and if possible, make a new pet home.
  • Don’t allow smoking at home.
Allergic Reactions At Home In The Bedroom

Treatment for Allergic Reactions At Home

First of all, it is recommended to see an immunologist to address the issue. Your allergist will probably treat the symptoms by using prescription antihistamines, [4] nasal sprays, or eye drops.

The doctor can ask you to take some tests for diagnosis including skin test, and blood test. During a skin test, a part of the skin is exposed to the allergen, and symptoms will show if you are allergic. Blood test for Immunoglobin E (sIgE) is to determine the concentration of IgE in the bloodstream which is an indication to if the person is allergic or not. A concentration more than the normal can mean a positive test for allergy.

Immunotherapy is another medication where the doctor gives you allergy shots that contain minute amounts of the allergen. In this way, your body develops a natural immunity to the allergy by making antibodies already.

In case of severe allergy, the doctor may prescribe you epinephrine shots. When severe allergic reaction occurs, epinephrine shots can reduce the symptoms until you get emergency treatment.


Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (January 26, 2021)

Sources
[1]J. A. Woodfolk, S. P. Commins and E. A. Erwin, “Allergens, sources, particles, and molecules: Why do we make IgE responses?,” Allergol Int., p. 295–303, 2015.
[2]Z. Chad, “Allergies in children,” Paediatr Child Health., p. 555–566., 2001.
[3]F. Lorente, M. Isidoro and E. Moreno, “Prevention of allergic diseases,” Allergol Immunopathol (Madr)., 2007.
[4]H. Lin and T. B. Casale, “Treatment of allergic asthma,” Am J Med., Dec 2016.
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Ahmed Abdelmajeed
Alexandria University Hospital

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Last Updated on February 1, 2021

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