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Are There Any Allergens Unique to NYC?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are about 19.1 million Americans suffering from hay fever and other allergic reactions. Allergies are an indication that you have a hypersensitive immune system. They lead to problems like sinusitis, asthma, and other reactions towards substances called allergens. In most cases, the allergic reactions are predictable and rapid.

Allergies are caused by the excessive activation of the mast cells and basophils. Both are types of white blood cells that fight the body against foreign invaders. These cells specifically have an inflammatory response to the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) that is a type of antibody.  While there are many seasonal and common allergies that occur in the United States such as hay fever, it seems that New Yorkers suffer more.

Common Allergies & Allergy Triggers

There are different types of allergies that New Yorkers suffer from and below are the common classifications of allergies that commonly strike people all over the United States.

  • Allergic rhinitis: A type of inflammatory response against pollens and other allergens, allergic rhinitis includes symptoms like a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, breathing difficulty, itching, and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis is common during the spring season wherein tree pollens are abundant but they can also last during early summer when grass pollens fill the air. Although allergic rhinitis is more common during these seasons, they have also been known to occur all year round. Other causes of allergic rhinitis include mold, mildew, pet dander, and dust mites. Changes in humidity are also a common allergy trigger.
  • Drug allergies: Drug allergies usually occur when a person has inflammatory reactions to certain drugs. People are commonly allergic to sulfur and penicillin drugs. Penicillin, for example, is a common allergen because most people have an intense reaction to the six-carbon benzene that it contains. Drug allergies are often manifested as rashes on the skin.
  • Food allergies: Food allergies are caused by immune responses towards some types of food proteins. When we eat, some of the proteins are resistant towards digestion thus they are tagged by the IgE making the immune system identify the protein fragment as harmful. This triggers an allergic reaction. Food allergies are manifested by different reactions such as gastrointestinal problems, dermatitis, and respiratory problems.  Anaphylactic shock can also occur and requires immediate attention. Common allergies are all around us and it’s important you know what to do if you have a reaction.

 

How Allergies Are Diagnosed

New Yorkers need to have themselves tested to confirm if they have some forms of allergic reactions.  This is important so that other symptoms cannot be mistaken for allergic reactions. One of the most common ways for allergies to be diagnosed is to have a skin test. Also known as prick testing, an area of the forearm is chosen and marked with a hypoallergenic pen. Small traces of allergens are placed on the punctured areas and observed within 30 seconds to see if the body has any reactions towards the allergens. This test also determines the severity of the allergic reaction.

Another method of testing for allergic reactions is to undergo blood testing wherein your blood IgE levels will be tested. This test does not predict the severity of the reaction but is good qualitative test to predict allergic reactions.

Allergens Unique To New York City

So, are there allergens that are only unique to New York City? The answer is no. New York City shares the same types of allergens as with the rest of the people in the United States. People are exposed to the same pet dander, dust mites, pollens and other environmental allergy triggers. But why is it that allergy season is worse in the city more than other places in the United States?

While it is true that seasonal allergies occur all over the US, including New York City, allergic reactions like asthma and sinusitis are exacerbated by many things. These include the air quality of the city, space restrictions, weather, and the occupational environment thus letting New Yorkers exposed to higher amounts of allergens.

For instance, hay fever is severe in the city because there are many male trees planted in the city more than female trees. Remember that male trees produce more pollens so that female plants can catch them.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America noted that New York is one of the most challenging cities to live for people who suffer from allergic rhinitis.

Although this may be the case, it does not mean that you have to move to another city if you suffer from severe allergic reactions. There are still many things that you can do to manage your allergic reactions and you can start by visiting your doctor soon so that you can be given anti-allergy drugs to manage your condition. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukla today to begin your allergy diagnosis and treatment. You’ll be loving where you live and breathing easier in no time.

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