11 Unusual Allergy Triggers Revealed This Allergy Awareness Week

Freshly-cut grass, bunches of flowers and open windows in the evening - there are plenty of things hayfever sufferers know will make their eyes itch and stream.

But with 20 per cent of Brits set to suffer from allergies this season, there are a few other, rather unexpected, allergy triggers that are worth knowing about.

Hayfever season this year is set to be a monster, thanks to the wet winter, and for Allergy Awareness Week we've rounded up these less common allergy triggers that changing could make all the difference.

1. Your morning shower

Many hayfever sufferers wake up feeling rubbish, stuffed up and itchy before they've even got up. This can be thanks to your habit of having a shower in the morning, rather than before bed. This means you sleep with the pollen and mould that your body has picked up over the day.

Try switching to nightly showers, particularly washing your face and hair to remove traces of allergens.

2. Your pets

Most of the year you have no problem living in the same house as your dog or cat but come hayfever season your pet may be another cause of your misery. Pets pick up pollen and other allergens when they're outside and bring them in so give your dog regular baths and try to keep the cat off the bed.

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3. Fans

Sometimes the air inside your home or office can be more allergy-causing than air outside, thanks to lack of ventilation and a combination of indoor allergens and outdoor allergens finding their way inside. Fans swirl round the air - and allergens - making symptoms worse. If it's too hot to do without, make sure the blades of your fans are cleaned before you turn them on.

4. Overwatering your plants

Unless you're allergic to the specific type of plant, having a few in the house shouldn't cause you problems. In fact, they improve air quality and can be beneficial for everyone's health (spider plants are great for air quality). But overwatering them could be worsening your allergies. Too much water that's not used by the plants can make mould and mildew spores grow in the soil, which are harmful when breathed in.

5. Spring cleaning (but also not spring cleaning)

The idea might be to get rid of the dust, dirt and spores that have settled in your house over the winter months, but spring cleaning can cause them to be released into the air, making sneezing, wheezing and watering eyes worse than ever.

But that's not to say you shouldn't never clean for fear of disturbing your dust piles. If you can, get someone else to do the major cleaning work for you and splash out on a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner to suck up more of the allergens causing your symptoms.

6. Heavy rain

The pattering of rain is often a beautiful sound to allergy sufferers, as they can expect a day with minimal sneezing. But heavy rain and thunderstorms can actually make allergies worse but stirring up pollen in the air. Make sure you keep windows closed during and immediately after heavy rain and try to avoid going outdoors.

7. Fruit

Fruit pollens are very similar to the allergens that cause hayfever, so some people can find that their symptoms are worsened by simply eating certain fruits. It's a trial and error process but generally heating reduces the potency of these allergens so try eating them cooked.

8. Hair products

Your hair sprays and gels make hair even more of a pollen and allergen magnet than normal. Try not to use many and wash your hair nightly to remove pollens that have tagged along in your 'do.

9. Stress

It doesn't cause allergies itself, but like many things, stress worsens the physical symptoms. If you're prone, it's especially important to find activities that help you cope during the high-allergy spring and summer months.

10. Alcohol

A little alcohol might help you forget the misery of your symptoms but evidence suggests they're more likely to get worse when you've had a drink. Alcohol dilates the nose’s blood vessels, which can make them more susceptible to irritants. Overall, it might not be worth it.

11. Scented candles

Even if your nose isn't so blocked that you can't smell them, scented candles can affect breathing, making things worse of asthma and hayfever sufferers. If your hayfever brings on any breathing difficulties or a tight chest, they're best avoided, and if you do burn them make sure the room is well ventilated.

According to research by Allergy UK, most hayfever sufferers still experience symptoms despite taking medication. Only four per cent of people said their medication eliminated symptoms. Experts have suggested this is because we're not using it right so make sure you're following instructions to the letter as well as making lifestyle changes where possible.