Depending on what you’re allergic to, you may know how to avoid some of your major triggers, but, there are lifestyle factors that you may not be aware of that can exacerbate symptoms like sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes.
Stressful work deadlines
In a 2008 experiment, researchers at Ohio State University College of Medicine found that allergy sufferers had more symptoms after they took an anxiety-inducing test, compared with when they performed a task that did not make them tense. Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, blood proteins that cause allergic reactions, says study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. If you’re under stress, get enough sleep. A sleep deficit can worsen both allergy symptoms and stress, she says.
Bringing fruits, vegetables and household plants home
We tend to think of fruits and veggies as being “good for you,” but considering that pollen and other plant-derived allergens are what cause seasonal allergies, it makes sense that bringing plants, ferns and flowers into your house could aggravate your sinuses. In fact, scientists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology have reported that people with certain allergies tend to be sensitive to particular types of produce. For example, individuals who are allergic to grass may find that tomatoes, peaches or potatoes make their symptoms worse, while people with birch or alder tree allergies may be bothered by cherries, celery or apples. When it comes to household plants, ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchids and ferns are the most common causes of flare-ups.
Showering Only in the Morning
When you spend a lot of time outside, particularly if you’re working out in the yard, pollen can end up on your skin and hair, worsening allergy symptoms. If you’re highly allergic to pollen, it’s a good idea to take a second shower after you come inside, to rinse away the pollen and help avoid allergy symptoms, explains Mark S. Dykewicz, MD, professor of internal medicine and director of allergy and immunology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Cigarettes—with their numerous toxic chemicals and irritants—are nasty for everyone, but allergy sufferers may be especially sensitive, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In fact, one Japanese study of teenage students found that more than 80% of those who came from homes where family members smoked heavily showed signs of nasal allergies.
Even if you don’t hang around smoky bars or other areas, particles on the clothing of smoking friends or coworkers can pollute the air in your home or office.
Wearing Shoes around the House
You can carry quite a bit of pollen into the house after you’ve been exposed to it by exercising or working outside. If you don’t take off your shoes as soon as you come into the house, you may be tracking pollen into every room. The same goes for your clothes. It’s not necessary for everyone, but if seasonal allergies like hay fever are particularly troublesome for you, change your clothes as soon as you come in and throw them in the wash to keep allergy symptoms from following you home, Dr. Dykewicz advises.
Having that evening cocktail
This is one trigger that you may not want to hear about, but drinks like beer and wine contain bacteria and yeast, microorganisms that produce histamines, which are known allergy triggers. Studies have shown that wine has the most profound effect, especially in women. Red wine has 20 percent to 200 percent more histamines than white wine. Further, pickled or yeast-containing foods, like cheese, bread or cider, can have a similar effect on allergy symptoms.