Uncommon Household Allergens: 5 Hidden Allergens

Learn the five uncommon, some potentally dangerous household allergens.

| January/February 2003

Are they lurking in your home?

An allergen is any substance that induces altered bodily reactivity or exaggerated reactions. Each individual responds to allergens uniquely. Common allergens include pollens, dust, animal dander, molds, bee stings, wool and other natural fibers, and some foods. Because these target the nose and respiratory system, skin, eyes, ears, and gastrointestinal system, people who react to these allergens may sneeze, wheeze, cough, scratch, ache, and look puffy.

Another type of allergen is chemicals and additives found in foods and the environment. Reactions to these vary widely and can seem unrelated to each other; responses may include migraine headaches, confusion, memory loss, personality changes, mood swings, hyperactivity and depression.

Everyone has the potential to be allergic. Whether or not you respond to particular allergens has to do with your individual tolerance threshold. You can be repeatedly exposed to something with no problem, then one day that very same substance can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back—your body is exposed to more than it can take and you have an allergic reaction.

Foods and natural allergens do not generally harm the body beyond their annoying symptoms and are safe for otherwise healthy people to be exposed to. Most chemical allergens, on the other hand, do cause harm to healthy bodies; everyone should avoid them.

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