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Q. I am an 18 year-old female, and I currently suffer from allergies. They really only flare up in the morning, and the rest of the day they are fine, with a few sneezes here and there. I have also suffered from second-hand smoke since I was born. Is this a specific type of allergy?

A. It is common for allergies to flare up in the morning for a variety of reasons. The first is that people can be exposed to common allergens at night while they are sleeping, and morning symptoms may be a reflection of nighttime exposure. Pollen counts are often at their highest in the early mornings. In people who are allergic to pollens, this can be a time when symptoms occur most strongly, especially if you are outdoors or around open windows. Your allergist can perform testing to help determine if allergies are playing a role in your symptoms.

Second hand smoke exposure is a common trigger for nasal congestion and runny nose; but second hand smoke is actually not an allergic trigger, but rather an irritant trigger. Other common irritants include fireplace smoke, fragrances, and cleaning agents. Symptoms resulting from exposure to irritants are often the same as those triggered by allergies. An evaluation with your allergist and allergy testing can help determine if allergies are the cause of your symptoms.