An allergy is your immune system’s reaction to certain plants, animals, food, insect bites or other things. Your immune system protects you by fighting germs like bacteria a virus. When you have allergies, the immune system overreacts and tries to “fight” ordinary things like grass, pollen or certain foods.
The substance that causes allergies are called allergens. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system. When your immune system reacts to one of these allergens and you have symptoms, you may be allergic to it.
example of some Allergens
Some allergens cause sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, itchy red watery eyes and itchy ears. Other allergens such as food can cause rash, tingling of the mouth, hives, a stuffy nose, stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea. Occasionally allergens can cause more severe symptoms including breathing difficulties like wheezing, shortness of breath or anaphylaxis which can be life threatening.
Some allergies such as from foods are a problem all year long while others are considered seasonal depending on current blooms.
Look for ways to avoid allergens even if you are treating your allergies with medications. If you have outdoor allergies limit your time outside and keep windows and doors closed during peak season. If indoor allergens are a problem dust, vacuum and wash bedding often.
Keep a diary to try and identify what causes or worsens your allergic symptoms. Track your activities and what you eat when symptoms occur and what treatments help.
If you have a severe allergic reaction it might be a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet.
Allergy medicine can be pills, liquid or even sprays for your nose. If avoiding allergens and taking medicines to control symptoms do not relieve symptoms an allergist who specialized in allergies may prescribe injections or a serum used under the tongue.
When to see a health care provider:
If you have symptoms you think are caused by an allergy and over the counter allergy medicines don’t provider enough relief call to schedule an appointment with your medical provider. If you have symptoms after starting a new medication, call the provider that prescribed it right away.
For a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis),
call 911 or go to the ER right away.
If you carry an epi pen give yourself a shot right away.