If you suffer from allergies, you probably also have a pretty good idea of the things that make you sneeze. But have you ever wondered if your allergy triggers are the same as everyone else's? And do you think there could be other things that could be causing a reaction that you haven't yet identified?

Check out our list of the most common allergy triggers-and get some tips on how best to keep them from making you sick.

If you're allergic to any of the items listed below, coming into contact with them can cause your immune system to overreact with a host of symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, nose and throat, hives, rashes and even asthma attacks. In more extreme cases, you can also be at risk for anaphylaxis, which is a life threatening reaction if not treated promptly. That's why it's important to get the facts and be prepared for anything.

  • Trigger #1: Pollen

 Whether it's pollen from grass, trees or flowering plants, this allergen is carried in the air and, as a result, is very easily spread. It also catches on your clothes, skin and hair, so it can be difficult to escape its effects anywhere. The worst time of year for pollen sufferers is usually spring and summer, but there are some pollens that do spread in winter, so beware.

Tip: Always take a hot shower and wash your hair and clothes right away after spending time outdoors to remove any pollen remnants that are trapped there.

  • Trigger #2: Mold

If you have a mold allergy, you know how pervasive this trigger can be. Mold spores can grow in moist and damp areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements, too.

Tip: Avoid the risks of mold by keeping your home clean and dry and repairing leaks promptly.

  • Trigger #3: Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in bedding, pillows, rugs, curtains and stuffed animals. Their waste can cause allergies so it's important to try to keep them away from you, and away from the areas where you sleep.

Tip: Remove curtains, carpeting and stuffed animals from your bedroom, keep your mattress and pillows encased in hypoallergenic covers and wash your bedding frequently in very hot water to minimize your exposure.

  • Trigger #4: Cockroaches

You may not know it but cockroaches can trigger your allergies. As gross as it sounds, their waste is actually what causes the reaction.

Tip: Keep your house very clean, avoid leaving out food and promptly remove crumbs to discourage the presence of cockroaches and other bugs.

  • Trigger #5: Bee Stings

No one likes to be stung by a bee, but for people with severe allergies, a bee sting can be life threatening. Therefore, it's important to carry an Epi-Pen in case you get bitten or stung in order to head off a serious reaction.

Tip: Avoid eating outdoors, using perfume or wearing brightly colored clothes outdoors, since all of these things can attract bugs your way. If you do find a bee, wasp or hornet's nest on your property, make sure to have it professionally removed.

  • Trigger #6: Peanuts and Tree Nuts

You're probably aware of the danger of peanut allergies, since this has been featured in the news a lot lately. For people with a severe reaction to any type of nuts, even coming in contact with someone else who recently had a nut product can be enough to trigger a reaction. Therefore, always carry an Epi-Pen just in case of an emergency.

Tip: Read labels to make sure there is no cross-contamination with nuts in any of the things you eat. You should also make your nut allergy known so people around you will go to great lengths to avoid eating peanut items in your presence. This is essential to helping you stay safe.

  • Trigger #7: Shellfish

If you've ever had a reaction to shellfish, you'll probably want to avoid all types, since an allergy to shellfish and other types of seafood can be very severe.  If you're highly sensitive, even the steam from this item cooking can be enough to set a reaction in motion. Again, in an emergency, having an Epi-Pen can be a life saving step.

Tip: Always ask about ingredients when ordering a restaurant meal and make sure there's no danger of cross contamination if your allergy could be severe. 

  • Trigger #8: Latex

Latex allergies have become more common in recent years. If you work in the health field, you can be at even higher risk for having a reaction to this material, which is made from the sap of a latex tree.

Tip: Latex is used for more than medical gloves today. Rubber sink stoppers and other common household items can also contain latex, so be sure to read labels and make educated choices to avoid coming into contact with this material.

  • Trigger #9: Animal Dander

If you're allergic to cats or dogs, it could be the animal dander or saliva that triggers your symptoms. Despite your reaction, though, you and your pet maybe able to co-exist if your willing to make some extra effort.

Tip: Keep your pet away from your bedroom and also vacuum, clean and dust frequently to remove pet hair and dander that could make you sick.

  • Trigger #10: Medicines

Medicine is supposed to make you feel better, right? But if your body has a problem with an ingredient your medication contains, you can end up dealing with the effects of an allergic reaction, such as hives and even difficulty breathing, instead.

Tip: If you experience hives or any type of rash after taking penicillin or other medications, you should contact your doctor. You may need to try an alternative remedy that uses a different active ingredient to cure whatever ails you.

While these and other allergy triggers are everywhere, knowing what to avoid can be an important step toward keeping your symptoms in check. You can also use allergy medications or get allergy shots along with taking important preventative measures.


University of Maryland Medical Center

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)