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4 Surprising Things That Are Affecting Your Allergies

Break It Down: Allergies

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Why does pollen cause your body to go haywire? We asked Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and an immunologist at the Allergy & Asthma Network in New York City, how allergic reactions happen. Because the more you know, the better you can save yourself from the misery. (Related: How Global Warning Affects Your Spring Allergies)

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The 1-Hour Window

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“Seconds after you touch or inhale an allergen, your body produces histamines, chemicals released by immune cells. Symptoms can then develop within 20 minutes,” Dr. Parikh says. Take an antihistamine an hour before exposure, though, and you can block that process and stay virtually symptom-free."

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The Cocktail Effect

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“Alcohol increases inflammation in parts of the body affected by an allergy, worsening symptoms,” Dr. Parikh says. Plus, the fermentation process used to make booze can produce more histamines. Lay off until you’re better. (Also see: Signs You Might Be Allergic to Alcohol.)

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The Exercise Issue

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“Some people find that cardio temporarily heightens sneezing and itching, since it boosts circulation to irritated areas,” Dr. Parikh says. Try low-key workouts like yoga, or exercise indoors or at night, when the pollen count is lower. (Try this 20-minute yoga flow.)

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The Humidity Factor

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A little moisture is soothing to a dried-out nose and throat and dry eyes. But if your humidifier is cranked up too high, it can spur the production of dust mites, a common indoor allergen in bedding. Keep the humidity at a happy 40 to 50 percent. (More Tips: How to Get Rid of Seasonal Allergy Symptoms)

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