An allergy is an abnormal response that the body has to something foreign that it comes in contact with. While the substance may not cause harm to the body, it affect’s the immune system and causes a reaction. This reaction can trigger a variety of symptoms that may cause some discomfort to the person involved. The body reacts to the invading substance and tries to protect itself by releasing chemicals to cope with what is happening.
Just because someone has an adverse response to a substance that there are not used to, does not mean that the person is allergic to the substance and will have to deal with the same symptoms every time they come in contact with it. For example, many medications have potential side effects. If a person suffers from a side effect from medication they are taking this does not automatically mean that they are allergic to it. In turn an allergy is something that a person can grow out of or something that they may suffer from once or twice and never again.
Common symptoms of an allergy include itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose, and a rash on the skin. An allergy is an exaggerated response to a substance it is not familiar with. Allergies serve to further cause irritation to what you see, smell, taste and touch. An allergy can be extremely serious if it is not kept in check, and in the most extreme cases can cause fatalities. If you experience any of the symptoms listed it is wise to go to your doctor or medical center as soon as possible for treatment.
An allergy can take many forms. Some of the most common types of allergies include nasal allergies and hay fever, skin allergies, drug and medicine allergies, food allergies and insect allergies. Nasal allergies and hay fever are allergies that are usually seasonal in nature and get worse during the spring months due to the pollen that is on the grass and trees and often floats freely through the air, irritating nasal passages.
If you suffer from an allergy that bothers you frequently and/or the cause of it is unknown, your doctor may decide to send you for allergy testing. First he will perform a physical exam himself and if he still not satisfied that he understands the root of the problem he might book an appointment for you to visit an allergist, who is a doctor who specializes in both asthma and allergies.
The first part of allergy testing involves the doctor understanding what symptoms you suffer from and evaluating these symptoms accordingly. The doctor will ask you a series of questions which will help him rule out similar health conditions and also to more closely pinpoint which type of allergy you might be suffering from.
Examples of questions you might be asked include:
-What kind of symptoms do you experience?
-How long have you had these symptoms?
-When the symptoms arise, how often do they stay around?
-Are your symptoms related to the season of the year?
-Do you smoke?
-Do you have pets in your home?
-Are your symptoms worse when you are indoors or outdoors?
The doctor will also give you a complete physical exam and in particular will focus in on your skin, eyes, ears, nose and throat. The doctor will look carefully for any swelling, redness, drainage or other allergy symptoms.
If your doctor is still unclear after this part of the allergy testing he may send you for a blood test or skin test. There are also other types of allergy tests such as food allergy tests. If it is determined that you have an allergy to a food then you may be required by your doctor to keep a food diary and mark down everything you eat and drink on a daily basis. You may also be asked to limit or completely remove specific foods from your diet to more accurate determine what the allergy you are suffering from is.
In order for an allergy sufferer to know what treatment is best for them, they should go to see an allergist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Once the allergy has been diagnosed, a proper form of allergy treatment will be determined.
Many allergists consider environmental factors in relation to allergies and make sure that their patients receive proper counselling in regards to the ways they can avoid the substances that can elicit allergic reactions. Taking preventative measures can decrease how often the person’s suffer from an allergy attack, as well as the severity of the attacks.
There are a variety of types of medications on the market, some prescription and others over-the-counter that can help in terms of allergy treatment. Antihistamines and decongestants are very popular as are anti-inflammatory agents. Examples of these include corticosteroids, cromolyn and nedocromil. Thee medications help to decrease the amount of inflammation in the airways. There is also a type of low-dose corticosteroid nasal spray that is readily used by allergy sufferers and is very effective at managing inflammation in the nose.
Another type of allergy treatment is allergy shots. Allergy shots are recommended for people who suffer from moderate to severe allergies reactions and are also particularly beneficial for children. Doctors also recommended allergy shot for those individuals who find it impossible to stay away from the source of their allergy, such as an allergen found at the workplace or a person who refuses to give up their beloved cat or dog.
Allergy shots as allergy treatment are given in two phases- the build up phase and the maintenance phase. Patients are given one shot a week and the dosage is increased over time as the person builds immunity to it. Also known as immunotherapy, this type of allergy treatment has been around for many years but the results are not the same for everyone. In most cases the patient must be given shots for a period of time that can range anywhere from three to five years.
Allergy symptoms can vary depending on the severity of them. Allergic reactions can fall into the mild, moderate or severe categories and the symptoms get worse as you graduate from one type to the other.
If you suffer a mild allergic reaction the symptoms can include a swelling of the skin and a rash, itchy, watery eyes and congestion. A mild allergy attack will not spread to any other spot of the body beyond where it shows itself.
Moderate allergic reactions can include some of the above symptoms as well as more intense itchiness and a problem with breathing. If you suffer these types of allergy symptoms and it is diagnosed as a moderate allergic reaction, be aware that it can spread to other spots of your body if not kept in check. Medical attention should be sought for a moderate allergic reaction.
Allergy symptoms that can be classified as severe are known as anaphylaxis. This condition is rare but life threatening. When a severe allergic reaction occurs, the response of the body to an allergen is completely unexpected, intense and can affect not just one part of the body but the entire body. The symptoms can begin with itchiness of the eyes and face and can quickly spread to even more symptoms that become severe very fast.
Some examples of allergy symptoms related to anaphylaxis include pain in the abdomen, varying extents of swelling which can immediately cause problems with the person’s ability to breathe and swallow, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and mental confusion. A severe allergic reaction constitutes a medical emergency and help should be sought without delay.
Most people who suffer from allergies are aware of the potential of allergy symptoms. It is worth noting however that new allergies can start all of a sudden without any prior warning and therefore keeping watch for potential allergy symptoms is always important.
Allergy shots are not good for everyone but tend to work best on people who suffer from severe symptoms, or people who have allergies that over the years have not shown any sign of improvement. If you have experienced a variety of side effects from other forms of medication then allergy shots may be a good idea for you as well.
The allergies that allergy shots work best for include seasonal allergies, indoor allergens and insect stings. Individuals with seasonal allergies or seasonal asthma or hay fever are allergic to such things as pollens from grass, weeds and trees. If you suffer from allergies all year long then you probably are sensitive to any number of indoor allergens which could include such things as cockroaches, pet dander, mold and/or dust mites. An other type of allergies is an allergy to insect stings. Many people experience allergic reactions when they are stung by a bee, wasp, yellow jacket or hornet.
Allergy shots may be beneficial to you if you have no way to avoid the triggers for your allergic reaction. For example if you are allergic to your pet’s fur but refuse to find the animal a new home. They may also be beneficial to you if the allergy medications you have tried in the past, or are using presently are not enough to help relieve you of the symptoms. If your current allergy medications cause you unpleasant side effects or if they interact with other types of medications then you should give allergy shots a try.
If you wish to decrease your use of allergy medication on a long term basis then allergy shots are a viable option. If you are allergic to insect or bee stings then allergy shots are wise as these types of stings can be extremely serious, and in some cases, deadly.
Allergy shots may not be the best course of action if you have recently found out that you are pregnant. However if you have been getting allergy shots and then find out you are pregnant, this should be fine. If you suffer from severe and uncontrollable asthma or lung or heart conditions (such as taking beta blockers) then you should not get allergy shots. Allergy shots are not effective for individuals who suffer from any type of food allergies or chronic hives (urticaria).