When your body is allergic to a foreign object such as dust, pollen, or a certain food substance, it produces a sneeze in an attempt to get rid of the irritant. A sneeze can project out of the body at up to 100 miles per hour and up to 5 feet away from the source. Certain allergens are more widespread during different times of year, which can cause you to sneeze more in the warmer months. Tree and grass pollen are most prevalent during the spring, while weed pollen is common in the summer and fall. But, allergens aren’t the only cause of sneezing. Exercising, plucking your eyebrows, and bright sunlight are all potential triggers. Interestingly enough, you have to be awake to produce a sneeze, as it is impossible to do so while sleeping.
The average person breathes in approximately 45 pounds of dust in their lifetime, which has led to allergies becoming the fifth leading chronic disease in the United States. Fifty million Americans (that’s 1-in-5 people) suffer from allergies, and nearly 55% of people test positive for one or more allergens. In fact, 30,000 emergency room visits per year are caused by food allergies. For those who test positive for an allergen, genetics are the culprit. If one parent has an allergy, there is a 1-in-3 chance that the child will have allergies as well. If both parents suffer from allergies, those odds increase to 7-in-10.
While there are a variety of sources in nature that can trigger allergies, you might be surprised to learn that the time you spend indoors can have an even greater effect. The average person spends 90% of their life indoors, and 33% of that time is spent in the bedroom, which is the room that contains the most allergens. Another common allergen is pet dander. Every home contains pet dander, despite the fact that only 33% of households have a cat and 39% of households have a dog. Whether you suffer from allergies indoors or outdoors, you are at an increased risk to miss time from work or school. Allergies are the number two reason why adults miss work, and $2.2 billion is lost annually due to loss in productivity caused by allergy symptoms that force people to miss work or school. When allergens are at their peak, sufferers can miss up to 32 hours per week.
There are three common ways to treat allergies. Avoiding mild irritants or food allergies can reduce the overall impact, but it is not considered a long-term strategy or cure. Using over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide short-term relief, but it is not a long-term solution as most medicines should not be taken for longer than 28 days. Weekly shots for 50 weeks a year can also reduce symptoms, but the most effective way to stay symptom-free for life is rush immunotherapy. Rush immunotherapy involves eight shots the first day and weekly shots for three months.
No matter which treatment option you choose, it is important to consult an allergist. Columbus residents can benefit from visiting a skilled professional, who can create a customized treatment plan to help manage their allergies.