Allergies
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

Coupons for Allergies

Allergies

There are numerous kinds of allergies that can range in their symptoms and severity. For some allergy suffers, having an allergy bout is uncomfortable or a nuisance, but for others, an allergy attack can be a life-threatening reaction that your body cannot fight off.

Allergies are common, especially seasonal ones that tend to persist in the fall or spring. When it comes to the cause of allergies, it is an interplay between environmental factors and genes. According to the National Institute of Health, The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses. It also reacts to foreign substances called allergens, which are generally harmless and in most people do not cause a problem.

But in a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive. When it recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals such as histamines, which fight off the allergen. This causes allergy symptoms.

The most common allergens or triggers are medications, dust, pet dander, certain foods, mold and pollen. Interestingly enough, you are more likely to have an allergy passed down to you if both of your parents, particularly your mother has an allergy.

Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), these are some of the most common allergy symptoms:

  • Breathing problems (coughing, shortness of breath)
  • Burning, tearing, or itchy eyes
  • Conjunctivitis (red, swollen eyes)
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Hives
  • Itching of the nose, mouth, throat, skin, or any other area
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rashes
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • When it comes to testing for allergies, your medical provider will likely to do two things: Ask you questions about your habits and how they relate to your allergy symptoms and two, perform an allergy skin test to assess how you react when certain allergens are introduced onto your skin.

    Treatment

    Treatment for allergies depends upon the symptoms severity. For those with life-threatening allergies, then the medicine called epinephrine, which can be life saving must be given right away.

    The most common way to treat non-life threatening allergies is to avoid the allergen. But in cases when this is not possible, over-the-counter or prescription medications are taken. These typically fall into a class of medicines, called antihistamines. They work by reducing the allergy symptoms and clearing up the nasal passages. Steroids are also used to treat more moderate forms of allergic reactions, as can decongestants and allergy injections.

    According to the NIH, some children may outgrow an allergy, especially food allergies. However, once a substance has triggered an allergic reaction, it usually continues to affect the person.

    Allergy shots are most effective when used to treat people with hay fever symptoms and severe insect sting allergies. They are not used to treat food allergies because of the danger of a severe reaction.

    Allergy shots may need years of treatment, but they work in most cases. However, they may cause uncomfortable side effects (such as hives and rash) and dangerous outcomes such as anaphylaxis.

    Prevention

    While there is no one specific way to prevent allergies, many studies show that breastfeeding for at least four to six months can help prevent the onset of a cow’s milk allergy, a very common kind of allergy.

    The NIH also cites that there is also evidence that infants who are exposed to certain allergens in the air (such as dust mites and cat dander) may be less likely to develop allergies. This is called the "hygiene hypothesis." It came from the observation that infants on farms tend to have fewer allergies than those who grow up in more sterile environments. However, older children do not seem to benefit.