Allergy Causes & Symptoms

What are the Causes of Year-Round, Never-Ending Allergies?

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Admit it: You look at seasonal allergy sufferers with envy.

You get it—seasonal allergies are no treat either. But, those people only have to deal with their annoying allergy symptoms at a certain point in the year, while you’re stuck wiping your nose and rubbing your eyes all year long.

Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head, you might be one of the unfortunate people who is plagued by year-round allergies.

How do I know if I have year-round allergies?

There’s a pretty telltale sign that you have year-round allergies (also known as perennial allergies or perennial allergic rhinitis, if you’re feeling fancy): You’ll experience allergy symptoms throughout the year, on a pretty consistent basis.

What types of signs should you be on the lookout for? As the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology explains, typical symptoms include:

  • itchy and watery eyes
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • sneezing

Many people also experience fatigue with their allergies—mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you can’t breathe through your nose and your eyes feel like they’re made of sandpaper.

These symptoms mirror the symptoms of seasonal allergies. However, again, the most important thing to pay attention to is timing.

If you experience a flare-up of your allergy symptoms during a certain point each year, then you’re dealing with seasonal allergies. If you notice these signs all throughout the year, then it’s perennial allergies. Note that both types of allergies are often referred to as hay fever (but rest assured, they shouldn’t cause an actual fever).

What causes year-round allergies?

You’ve determined you have year-round allergies. Take a minute to groan and complain—you’ve earned that much. But, now that you know what you’re dealing with, let’s talk about where these allergies come from.

Somebody with seasonal allergies experiences an allergic reaction to something in the great outdoors, such as pollen (from ragweed, trees, and grasses) or mold spores.

In contrast, when you have year-round allergies, your body reacts to indoor allergens. These include dust mites, pet hair and dander, indoor mold, and even cockroaches. Yes, we said cockroaches. Their saliva, feces, and shedding body parts cause asthma and allergies. Major ick.

In addition to these environmental factors, you might also react to certain irritants, such as cigarette smoke or strong perfumes.

When your body detects one of your allergy triggers, it overproduces histamine—which is a chemical in your body that causes inflammation. That’s what kicks off all of those dreaded allergy symptoms.

What’s the right treatment plan?

Now that you know the root of your problem, here’s the biggest question you want to answer: How do you treat your perennial allergies? Let’s talk about some of the different ways you can get ahead of your symptoms and get some much-needed relief.

1. Avoid your triggers when you can

Most helpful for: All perennial allergy triggers

One of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid your triggers altogether.

If you know that cigarette smoke always sends your sneezing and itching into overdrive, then it’s best to stay out of smoky environments. Or, if pet dander inspires misery, volunteering at your local humane society probably isn’t the best choice.

Of course, it can be tough to eliminate your triggers entirely. Don’t worry—we’re spelling out a few other options that can help minimize their effects.

2. Take an antihistamine

Most helpful for: All perennial allergy triggers

Antihistamines are medications that block the effects of histamine in your body, which helps prevent your allergy symptoms. They come in a variety of different forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, syrups, creams, lotions, gels, eyedrops, and nasal sprays.

They’re most effective when they’re taken preventatively. So, if you know you’re going to be in an environment with one of your allergy triggers (like you’re heading over to see a friend who has a dog, and pet dander sparks symptoms for you), take an antihistamine before you go.

Don’t worry—antihistamines are safe to be taken long-term, and shouldn’t lose their effectiveness over time. Additionally, corticosteroid nasal sprays contain anti-inflammatory properties and are also effective for treating year-round allergies.

If you want to get started with an antihistamine, we can help point you toward a personal, allergist-picked Pack. Simply tell us about the symptoms and seasons that bother you most, along with a little about your experience, and we'll get you the personalized Allergy Pack and ongoing care you need to achieve peak relief.

3. Be mindful of your soft surfaces

Most helpful for: Pet dander and dust mites

We don’t want to gross you out, but pet dander and dust mites love soft surfaces. This includes carpeting, curtains, bedding, towels—you get the idea. The American Lung Association estimates that hundreds of thousands of dust mites are living in these cushy materials.

Is your skin crawling? Ours too. But, this speaks to the importance of washing your soft surfaces frequently in hot water.

It can also be helpful to replace some of the soft surfaces in your home. For example, use blinds rather than curtains. Or, rip up the carpet and put in hard flooring instead. Those aren’t feasible for everybody. So, then your next best option is washing and vacuuming on a regular basis.

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4. Beware of excess moisture

Most helpful for: Mold and cockroaches

As if the dust mites weren’t enough to have you wiggling in your seat, now we need to talk about mold and cockroaches. Both of these thrive in moist environments.

Place dehumidifiers in excessively moist areas of your home to try to cut down on dampness and always turn on the bathroom fan when you take a shower.

These will help you eliminate excess moisture—as well as these undesirable (and creepy crawly) allergy triggers.

5. Ensure food is picked up and covered

Most helpful for: Cockroaches

Alright, one more gross fact and then we’ll stop: An estimated 63% of homes in the U.S. contain cockroaches and their particles.

Do you know what cockroaches love? Food.

That’s why you shouldn’t leave any food out, and you also need to be proactive about getting rid of any food remnants. That means emptying your trash cans frequently (and keeping them covered), washing disease promptly, and cleaning up any spills, messes, or crumbs.

Those efforts alone will help you keep those allergy-inducing little buggers out of your home.

Year-round allergies? It’s time to do something about them

We’ll just say it: Allergies are always miserable, but year-round allergies are a whole separate monster.

Constant sniffling, sneezing, and scratching is no way to live. Plus, you’ve quickly grown tired of the dirty looks you get from others when you blow your nose and explain that it really is your allergies again (because yes, you have them year-round).

The good news is that you don’t need to accept that misery and those sideways glances. There are things you can do to address your year-round allergy triggers. Give some of these treatment options a try, and you’re on your way to achieving some well-deserved relief.

ARTICLE REVIEWED BYAmina H. Abdeldaim, MD MPHPicnic Medical Director
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