Home Allergies – Patient Education Overview

When a person has indoor or home allergies, the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to substances, such as dust, mold, animal dander, or animal saliva, as invaders. These substances are called allergens. They do not cause allergy symptoms for most people, but in people with one of these allergies, an allergic reaction occurs as the immune system tries to fight off the allergen. Read more in this patient education guide.

Common indoor or home allergens include:

  • Mold Allergies - Mold spores can be carried in the air in damp places, such as basements, bathrooms, or washrooms, or on fabrics, rugs, stuffed animals, or books that have been kept in damp areas. Mold also lives outdoors in soil, compost, and damp vegetation.
  • Pet Allergies - People who are allergic to animals are allergic to their pet’s dander (the small scales of skin that they shed) or their saliva, but not their fur or feathers.
  • Dust Allergies - House dust carries many tiny particles in it, including pollen, mold spores, clothing fibers, detergents, animal dander, tiny insects called dust mites, parts of cockroaches, bacteria, food particles, and other debris. Dust allergy is most often a reaction to dust mites, animal dander, or cockroach debris.
  • Other irritants in the environment - Smoke, fumes from industries or cleaning products, tobacco, powder, and laundry detergents, can cause allergy-like symptoms even though there is no immune system reaction to them.

Allergens enter the body through the eyes, airways, or on the skin, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Itchy nose, eyes, throat, or skin
  • Rash
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Sneezing
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Tearing eyes
  • Wheezing


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