What are Allergies?
Allergies (general) are a very common condition around the world.
The general symptoms of generalized allergies are:
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Itchy skin
- Congested nose
- Possible wheezing
- Localized or widespread rash
Most allergies are considered seasonal and are the result of exposure to seasonal items, such as:
- Pet dander
What are the Symptoms of Allergies?
The symptoms a person experiences greatly depends on the allergen and how severe their personal histamine reaction is. The reaction could be mild, moderate, or severe.
- Localized rash
- Mild congestion
Mild allergic reactions are usually localized. In general, they do not spread to any other part of the body.
A moderate reaction is usually worse than a mild one. The symptoms from a moderate reaction can spread to other parts of the body, but are not life threatening. The symptoms may include:
- Widespread itching
- Difficulty breathing
A severe allergic reaction is rare. Usually, one of the symptoms of this condition is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency. The reaction is almost always sudden or occurs within minutes of coming into contact with an allergen and can quickly become more serious. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
- Facial itching
- Eye itching
- Different degrees of swelling inside the mouth, throat and tongue. These symptoms usually make swallowing and breathing difficult or impossible.
- Hives of various sizes
- Pain in the abdomen
- Cramps in the abdomen and muscles
- Vomiting, possibly violent
- Mental confusion
Allergies are caused when your body’s defense system mistakes an innocent substance, such as pollen, as an attacker invading your body. When your immune system detects the substance, it produces antibodies to fight the allergen. When you are re-exposed to the allergen, these same antibodies will turn on mast cells which release chemicals like histamine that will trigger allergy symptoms.
There are many common substances that can cause an allergic reaction including:
- Latex or other materials that can cause skin reactions
- Bee or wasp stings
- Various foods such as seafood, eggs, peanuts, and milk
- Medicines such as penicillin
- Airborne substances such as dust mites, animal dander and pollen
Risk factors which make it more likely for you to develop allergies include the following:
- Age (younger people tend to develop allergies more frequently)
- Asthmatic condition
- A family history of allergies or asthma
- dIf your immune system is weak and you come in contact with an allergen, you are more likely to develop an allergy
There are several steps you can take to prevent allergic reactions.
How are Allergies Treated?
The treatment used for allergies will greatly depend on the type of allergy you have and the severity of your allergy. Before your doctor recommends a course of treatment, they will most likely order an allergy test. This involves using a labeled grid to make a small scratch on your back to determine everything you are allergic to and how severe your reaction to the irritant is.
- Over the counter allergy medications
- Prescription medications
- Anticholinergic Nasal Sprays
- Steroid nasal sprays
- Eye drops
- Leukotriene inhibitors
- Mast Cell Inhibitors
- Allergy Shots
- Skin Allergies
- Auto-injectors, such as an EpiPen or similar type medication. Possibly epinephrine if your allergy is severe enough.
There are many ways to prevent allergies, through medication and natural methods.
The following are a few of the steps you can take to avoid suffering from allergies:
- Stay tuned to the news and the weather for allergen reports. Stay indoors if possible to avoid coming into contact with substances such as pollen.
- If you do go outside, wear a filter mast over your nose and mouth to prevent breathing in substances that can trigger your allergies.
- Pollen tends to stick in the nose cavity. Clean your nose out with a saline solution to prevent breathing in too much of the allergen.
- Be sure to take a shower after you’ve been outside to wash off any allergens that may stick to your skin or hair.
- Take an antihistamine before heading out in the morning. You can get antihistamine medications from the drug store or by prescription.
- You can get shots containing your allergen from your doctor. You will typically need to get 1-2 shots per week for several months to gradually eliminate the allergy.