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Allergies to What?

Allergy SuffererAllergies seem to be everywhere nowadays?  From respiratory allergies to food allergies it seems everyone is somehow affected.  Do you think you suffer from allergies?  In order to start to figure that out you need to understand what allergies are in the first place.

Allergies are the reactions to certain things that you either get exposed to or ingest like in the case of food.  These “things” are called allergens.  Since so many of these allergens have been identified allergies are usually broken down into categories based on either the allergen or the allergy symptoms involved.  The one that seems more prevalent nowadays are seasonal allergies or what I would call nasal allergies since the biggest symptom affects your nose and your breathing.  Sneezing and congestion are one of the cornerstones of seasonal allergies.  The main allergen in this case is pollen.

The next most well-known allergy are those classified as food allergies.  These allergic reactions can be life threatening so they are often covered by the media.  Peanut allergies are one of the main ones covered because it affects so many children.  The staple of lunch, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, has taken on a new meaning.  Affecting both children with the peanut allergy and without since schools and other children’s programs have instituted peanut butter bans and allergy free lunch tables.  Other food allergies like those to milk and seafood are others that can affect both adults and children.

Allergy symptoms can vary by person and by the type of allergy involved.  Seasonal allergies usually involve the the nose and are usually treated with antihistamines.  Interestingly enough there has been a new breed of allergy medicines for seasonal and nasal allergy symptoms that try to address the swelling of the nasal passages not just the blocking of the histamines that are treated by antihistamines.  With all forms of allergies you can run into different levels of severity based on the allergic reactions involved.  Simplistically they can be classified as mild, moderate and severe.  Mild symptoms can include watery eyes, itchy skin, a runny nose, coughing, and hives. A severe reaction would be anaphylactic, where the allergy sufferer can suffocate because of the swelling in the throat.  This is typically more associated with food allergies.

Sadly allergy sufferers can not be cured though their symptoms can be managed with the use of allergy medicines like antihistamines, steroidal medicines and immunotherapy.  Identifying your allergy triggers with an allergist is a major step in managing your allergies since you learn how to avoid the causes.  In the case of food allergies there are a variety of approaches involving food challenges so that your allergic reactions can be reduced.  Allergy shots are also an approach that can be investigated.

Are those the only allergies?  Sadly no.  Pets are also a common cause of nasal allergies.  Pet allergies mainly involve a person’s reaction to cats and dogs.  Moving the dog or cat out of your environment seems like a simple solution but because their dander remains it may take longer than you think to not only be allergy free but also to confirm whether it was your pet in the first place that was giving you allergies.  Other allergens to note are insect allergies like being allergic to a bee sting.  Another is a dust allergy where you react to the dust mites.  Latex and mold allergies are also of note but not as prevalent as some of the others.

If you or someone in your life thinks they are suffering from allergies don’t dismiss it as a media driven “fad”.  Our world has changed and many believe those changes have contributed to the rise in allergy sufferers.  Don’t be a victim and suffer through them without the help of your doctor and an allergist.  In some cases it could be a matter of life or death.

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