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What causes environmental allergies?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The amount of time in the sun before a sun allergy is triggered differs with each person, ranging from as little as 30 minutes up to several hours or even a few days.

Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

About one in five of all Americans suffer from some kind of allergy. Many of them suffer from environmental allergies. About 40 million, or more than ten percent, of Americans experience indoor/outdoor allergies. The most common triggers are pollen, pet dander, mold and dust mites.

Environmental allergies are caused when your body mistakes a substance it comes into contact with for something that is trying to harm it. Antibodies in the immune system release chemicals such as histamines in order to stop the substance from doing harm. Then, the next time you come into contact with the substance, and every time thereafter, your body releases the same chemicals. It's these chemicals that cause the allergy symptoms many people experience.

Environmental allergies are usually more of an irritation than a serious problem. If your allergies are troublesome, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. In the unlikely event that you have an anaphylactic reaction to an environmental allergen, carry an epinephrine pen for emergencies. Note that although environmental allergies are not usually serious, sufferers are more likely to develop asthma. This is known as allergy-induced asthma.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.