Allergies are a major cause of illness, with some allergy triggers being seasonal and others being year round. More than 50 million individuals in the United States alone are affected. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, congestion, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, cold-like symptoms, dark circles under the eyes and fatigue.

There are many causes of allergies, including grass, weed and tree pollen, mold, animal dander and insects such as dust mites and cockroaches. Boys Town Allergy, Asthma, Immunology & Pediatric Pulmonology offers ways on how to avoid exposure to your allergens.

How to avoid exposure to your allergens

• Pollen. Stay inside when the pollen counts are high and check aaaai.org for daily pollen counts. Keep windows closed, run the air conditioner and change the filter regularly.

• Dust mites and mold. Monitor your home for dampness and use a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity less than 50 percent to help reduce dust mites and mold. Use dust mite covers on your pillows and mattress and wash bedding regularly. Dust and vacuum at least once per week.

• Pets, dander and insects. Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them at least once per week. If there are pets in the home, HEPA filters and air purifiers can help reduce the amount of dander and hair floating around in the air. Keep the kitchen clean and food covered and sealed to avoid attracting cockroaches and other insects.

• Other irritants. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, perfumes and other chemicals that can make allergy symptoms worse.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your allergy problems, consult with an allergist or your primary care physician as soon as possible.

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Dr. Jill Hanson is a pediatrician for Boys Town, specializing in allergy, asthma, immunology and pediatric pulmonology. 

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