What are allergies?
A damaging immune response by the body to a substance
The human body is able to defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria through the immune system. However, sometimes the immune system is too aggressive and harmless substances such as dust, grass, pollen and pet hair are mistakenly identified as dangerous and the immune system launches a host of chemical weapons to attack and destroy the presumed enemy. In the process, some unpleasant and in some cases even life-threatening symptoms may be experienced by the allergy-prone individual.
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How do I know if I am having an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions can occur anywhere in the body. Common allergic reactions include runny nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, itchy or watery eyes, post nasal drip, sore throat, cough, rash, upset stomach, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
What substances cause allergic reactions?
There are hundreds of ordinary substances that can trigger allergic reactions. We call such triggers “allergens.” Among the most common are plant pollens, household dust (dust mites), animal dander, feathers, insect stings, foods, and medicines.
How do I get tested for allergies?
Skin testing is the most rapid, sensitive, and cost effective testing modality for environmental allergies. The procedure lasts less than an hour with minimal patient discomfort. In some instances a skin condition or a medication you are taking may make you a poor candidate for skin testing and in such cases, blood tests are also available.
What treatment options are available?
While the best way to prevent the unpleasant symptoms of allergies is to avoid the allergen, this is not always practical. Most patients with significant allergies require pharmacotherapy with antihistamines that can be purchased over the counter. In some cases, these medications are not effective enough or the side effects of the antihistamines are not tolerable and prescription medications must be used. When allergy medications and avoidance do not provide sufficient relief, subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) can make all the difference in a patient’s quality of life. Allergy shots are not a quick fix, but many people find them to be well worth the time and effort.
How do allergy shots work?
Allergy shots desensitize your immune system to the trees, grasses, dust, and dander around you that cause your unpleasant allergic reactions. Removing these allergic reactions can result in relief from the sinus trouble, eczema, asthma, and other symptoms that are exacerbated by allergies and actually result in a stronger, healthier immune system.