What are allergies? An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a unfamiliar substance, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body, or touch. Although there is no cure for allergies, you can manage allergies with avoidance and treatment.
Allergies are very common around the world with more than 50 million people in the US alone experiencing numerous types of allergies on an annual basis. There are many types of allergies, some worse than others. Every year, about 90,000 emergency room visits have to do with anaphylaxis to food. The most common cause for anaphylaxis is medicine, food, and insect stings.
Food allergies occur when exposure to food causes a harmful immune response. This immune response is called an allergic reaction and it can range from mild meaning itchy mouth or hives to severe meaning tight throat or difficulty breathing. Often, people like to confuse an intolerance to certain foods for an allergy. Food intolerance is the result of unrelated deficiency and can be cured if the basic problem is resolved. It is highly unlikely that a person allergic to one type of food can be allergic to more than one type.
Currently, there are about 5 known insects who can cause allergic reactions in humans. They are honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Every year about 100 deaths would occur due to anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting. An individual whose experienced an allergic reaction from a sting has a likely chance of having the same or even worse reaction if they are stung a second time.
Drug allergies are rare but when they do occur, they are caused by the immune system. Most drug allergies come from medicine and our immune system’s job is to rid our bodies of viruses and bacteria. Individuals affected with a drug allergy have an over-sensitive immune system acting as if the drug were an intruder. A drug allergy is not the same as a drug side effect. A drug allergy is also different from drug toxicity caused by an overdose of medication.
Some signs that an individual is having an allergic reaction may include:
Shortness of breath
Throat and mouth swelling
Cramping abdominal pain
Fall in blood pressure
Latex is used in everyday products such as Balloons, rubber bands, condoms and diaphragms, rubber household gloves, rubber balls, and bandages. Some causes of latex allergies are similar when it comes to your immune system being over sensitive. There are three types of latex reactions, the first being IgE-mediated allergic reactions. This type of reaction occurs from the natural rubber latex proteins. Allergic reactions can develop from contact with the skin, contact with a mucous membrane such as the mouth, or get in the lungs by breathing it in.
The second type of latex reaction is known as Cell-Mediated Contact Dermatitis. While Dermatitis means skin inflammation, this type of allergic reaction isn’t life threatening. It is usually due to sensitivity to chemicals used to make latex products. Exposure would lead to contact dermatitis that could last 1-2 days.
Lastly, Irritant Contact Dermatitis is a common reaction when it comes to natural latex but isn’t considered an allergy. It is more of a rash that stays for 1-2 days. This rash is the outcome of :
- Frequent hand washing
- Hand Sanitizer
- Friction from glove powder
The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion and dry, scaling skin. Allergic reactions that occur over different seasons could be a result of the spores of molds/fungi. Mold is everywhere but it is rare to have one cause an allergic reaction. To counteract this, your best bet would be to reduce your exposure to mold outside and inside. Limit your outdoor time to decrease inhalation of spores and lower your humidity indoors, 45% being good & 35% being even better. Reduce the amount of mold in your house by removing moisture , cleaning everything with disinfectant, and using a dehumidifier.
A lot of people live with pets despite some being allergic to them. Keep in mind, it isn’t the pet itself you are allergic to, its what they carry with them. Cat allergens can be found in their saliva which can be spread by them licking their fur. They can also be released by shedding or urination. Dogs are almost the same when it comes to how they spread allergens. It can occur by urination, shedding, saliva, and blood. Pet allergies are easily spread and can circulate a room.
Some methods to prevent allergies from pets include:
- Wash hands and clothes to remove pet allergens
- Use portable air cleaner for allergic person
- Keep pets out of allergic person’s room.
- Vacuum regularly
- Keep pets off furniture
- Bathe pets at least twice a week to decrease allergens
- Dust on the regular
Pollen is a fine powder produced by trees, flowers, grass, and weeds. It is used to fertilize other plants of the same species. This is one of the most common causes of allergies in the United States. This are also referred to as seasonal allergic rhinitis and is cause by:
- Birch Trees
- Oak Trees
- Ragweed Plants
Some symptoms if pollen allergies include nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, cough, increased asthmatic reactions, itchy/watery eyes, & increased asthmatic reactions. To prevent pollen allergies, you can do some of following:
- stay indoors on windy days
- don’t partake in any yard work
- wear a dust mask
- close doors and windows when pollen count is high.