In the United States, 1 in 5 people experience allergies of some sort. There are various forms of allergies that can cause several different reactions in the body. An allergy can be hard to identify at times, which makes it difficult to find the proper solution or treatment if necessary.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about common allergies.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is a harmful immune response by the body to pollen, certain foods, dust, mold, and other substances. It is very common for children to have allergies but adults at any age can develop an allergy to anything.
Are Allergies Curable?
Unfortunately, allergies cannot be cured, however they can be treated. An allergic reaction can be controlled with the proper treatments and by staying away from things that trigger allergies.
What Are Allergy Symptoms?
An allergic reaction can appear anywhere in or on the body. It is common for a reaction to appear in the eyes, throat, nose, skin, sinuses and stomach lining.
- Congestion, coughing, headaches, fatigue, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes: These common allergy symptoms are linked to dust, mold, pollen, and pet allergies.
- Stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea: Associated with food allergies.
- Redness, swelling, itchy skin, and breaking out in hives: Common symptoms with metal allergies, reaction to fragrance, pet dander, saliva or urine, insect bites or stings, and food allergies.
- Anaphylactic shock: Those with severe allergies experience a sudden drop in blood pressure which can result in unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, and sometimes death. People with severe allergies are given emergency medicine in the form of an injection called an EpiPen and should seek medical assistance as soon as they experience an allergic reaction.
Are There Different Types of Allergies?
Yes, there are many different forms of allergies that can affect a person’s daily activities.
- Food Allergy: Although food allergies are most common in children, they can still affect anyone at any age. An allergy can even develop after years of consuming the food without any reactions. The most common food allergens include: peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat, and soy.
- Pet Allergy: Most people who suffer from pet allergies are allergic to cats, dogs or both. People are allergic to the dander, which are flakes of dead skin, in the animal’s fur. Saliva and urine also cause allergic reactions. Skin can break out into hives where a cat or dog has licked the person. Dog and cat allergies cause the same reactions such as sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and nose.
- Seasonal Allergies: Some people have allergic reactions only when the seasons change. Spring is the most common time to experience symptoms like watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose and coughing due to all the pollen in the air, but it is not the only season that causes allergies. After everything has bloomed in Spring, the Summer is left with grass and weeds to stir up allergies. Insect bites are also more common during the hot summer months which can cause swelling, itching and sometimes severe reactions from the bite. Fall and Winter tend to cause more mold allergies because of the damper climate associated with these months.
- Skin Allergy: When the skin has an allergic reaction, it will look red and irritated, swell, the skin will itch and might even break out into hives. Skin allergies can be caused by various things such as metal allergies, bad reactions to fragrance, pet dander, saliva or urine, insect stings or bites and allergic reactions to food.
How do I Know it is Not a Cold?
Common allergy symptoms and cold symptoms can often look the same which makes it difficult to determine if it is a cold or an allergy. Both include the symptoms of congestion, fatigue, sneezing, and watery eyes. Although very similar, there are a few key differences to help determine what it is.
- Sneezing, runny nose, congested nose will occur one at a time, usually in that order.
- Check your temperature because you might have a fever
- Will last 7 to 10 days at the most
- Colds tend to cause a yellow-green nasal discharge
- Sneezing, runny nose, and congested nose will happen all at the same time.
- Most likely no fever will occur
- A reaction will only stop when you are no longer exposed to the allergen your body is reacting to
- Allergies will not cause a colored discharge. Mucus will be clear and thin
Treatment with Dr. Mayank Shukla
Allergies can be difficult to detect at times, but this information should give you a better idea of what you could be dealing with. If you think you or someone you know may have an allergy, make sure you seek medical attention to resolve the issue through testing and treatment.
Get started with an appointment with Dr. Shukla to understand the full extent of your allergies and review the best treatment options. Managing allergies is achievable with the right information, treatment, and self-care.