May 19, 2021
A Guide to Allergies and the Immune System
It seems like everyone is always talking about their allergies. But what does that mean, exactly? We’re here to help you clarify that question, and let you know that if you do have allergies, Aspire Allergy& Sinus is here to help!
Allergies: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Allergies are the immune system’s reaction to harmless substances like pollens, mold, pet dander, foods, and more. The immune system thinks these substances are harmful or foreign and then produces a reaction which we see as the typical red, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, etc.
What are the most common types of allergies?
There are various types of allergies. Some allergies are seasonal, and others are year-round.
A few common types include:
Pollen allergies: The most common trigger of seasonal allergies, this allergy is known to many as "hay fever," but experts usually refer to it as "seasonal allergic rhinitis." Pollen is released through grasses, trees and weeds. Although many think they are allergic to flowers, plants fertilized by insects, like roses and many flowering trees, usually do not cause allergies.
Mold Allergies: Mold and mildew are year-round problems for many, as it can be found both indoors and outdoors. The most common sources of mold growth can be in bathrooms, and in kitchens in and under the sink area, but can also be found in basements or anywhere with poor ventilation.
Pet allergies: This is another common allergy for many; but the allergy is not from what you think it is! Most think the allergy is caused by the pet’s fur, whereas a pet allergy is actually triggered by the pet’s saliva! Ever notice how cats and dogs are always licking themselves? So while it your pet’s shedding may be inconvenient, it is not what actually causes the allergic reaction.
Medicinal allergies or drug allergies: These types of allergies are rare and occur in only a small number of people. A drug allergy is when an abnormal reaction is experienced after taking an over the counter, prescription, or herbal medication. Note that a drug allergy is not the same as a drug side effect. A diagnosis of a reaction due to medication is usually based only upon the patient's history and symptoms.
Food Allergies: Food allergies can be very problematic, but what’s amazing is that nine foods are responsible for causing 90% of food allergic reactions. These top allergens include cow’s milk, egg. Tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, soy, fish, shellfish and wheat. Food allergy symptoms can range in severity from mild rashes, itching or swelling to more severe anaphylactic symptoms like trouble breathing.
Insect allergies: Stinging insects are the most common to cause an allergic reaction. These include Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets. There are still cases of non-stinging insects causing allergic reactions.
The most common are cockroaches and insect-like dust mites. Both of these insects can be a cause of year-round allergy and asthma.
Latex allergies: Natural rubber latex gloves, balloons, condoms, and other natural rubber products contain latex which can cause an allergic reaction. A latex allergy can cause a severe health risk to those who have it.
Allergy symptoms, which can vary depending on the substance involved, can affect your airways, sinuses, nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. The reactions can range from mild to severe.
What are the most common types of allergy symptoms?
Some of the most common seasonal and environmental allergy symptoms include:
· Itching of the nose, eyes, or roof of the mouth.
· Runny and/or stuffy nose
· Watery, red or swollen eyes
Some of the most common food allergy symptoms include:
· Tingling in the mouth
· Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat.
· Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction)
Some of the most common insect allergy symptoms include:
· A large area of swelling where you may have been stung.
· Itching or hives all over the body.
· Cough, chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
· Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction).
Some of the most common drug allergy symptoms include:
· Itchy skin
· Facial Swelling
What causes allergies?
When your immune system mistakes a normally harmless substance for a dangerous invader, an allergy has developed. What the immune system does next is produce antibodies that remain on the alert for that particular allergen. So, when you're exposed to the allergen again, these antibodies will release several immune system chemicals, such as histamine, that cause allergy symptoms.
We often get the question about whether antihistamines weaken the immune system. While we don't recommend antihistamines as a long-term solution for allergy treatment, there is no evidence that antihistamines suppress the immune system.
However, when someone suffers from allergies over a period of time, it can make them more susceptible to other secondary infections caused by allergies, like sinus or ear infections.
What are the best ways to treat seasonal allergies?
Immunotherapy- By and large, the best way to treat your allergies and get rid of them for good is through immunotherapy. This involves introducing very small amounts of the allergen you're reacting to into the body, so over time, the body no longer sees these substances as a threat. The most common types of immunotherapy are through allergy drops and allergy shots. Both of these methods are effective in treating allergies long-term and take about five years to complete treatment.
We also offer an extremely innovative and fast way to knock out your allergies in just three appointments, called ExACT Immunoplasty.
When immunotherapy isn't an option, we recommend:
Wash your linens- When you open your windows and doors, you allow particles to enter your home and settle. One of the places they like to land is on your linens. Ensure you wash all linens to remove any allergens regularly so that you don't sleep on them.
Reduce your exposure to triggers - Some of the great ways to reduce exposure to your allergy triggers include:
On dry, windy days, stay indoors also; if you are the one to tend to your yard, try wearing a pollen mask. Also, wearing sunglasses protects your eyes from pollen and other irritants from your eyes.
Drink water - Did you know dehydration (even a mild one) can activate histamine production, so staying hydrated is essential because it can dampen allergy symptoms.
Monitor daily pollen counts
Did you know that you can check pollen counts on weatherchannel.com? This will help you plan accordingly and take proper precautions if you are outside.
Close your windows
This seems simple enough ,but people want to open their windows with nice weather and let in the fresh air. However, when you let that fresh air in, you also allow allergen particles to enter your home.
Take a shower before bed
Being outside throughout the day allows allergen particles to get on your hair and skin. So, showering after coming in for the day will help to prevent you from sleeping on those allergens.
HEPA filters work by forcing air through a mesh that traps particles such as pollen, dander, dust, etc. A great way to know if a filter has a HEPA is to check for a certification logo on the box.
Nasal strips at bedtime
Nasal strips open the nasal passages and allow for easier breathing. This is great if your allergies cause nasal congestion.
These are just an overview of the causes and symptoms of allergies, and some things you can do to help. For further questions we recommend speaking with a specialist for more information. At Aspire Allergy &Sinus we also have several treatment options to meet your allergy needs, lifestyle, and budget.
So, request an appointment with one of our allergy specialists, today!