Environmental allergies, insect bite allergies and asthma can cause an allergic reaction in some people. An allergy is an abnormal response to a foreign substance – like dust, mold, pet dander, etc. Allergic individuals have hyperactive immune systems which cause exaggerated responses to certain substances, ones that cause no reaction in most people. These substances are called allergens, and they stimulate the body to form sensitizing antibodies. With repeated exposure, the allergens combine with the antibodies causing the body to release histamine and other chemicals, which sets off a chemical warfare inside the body – an allergic reaction, as most people call it.
- Watering/Itching Eyes
- Cold-Like Symptoms (that won’t go away)
- Chronic Cough
- Clear Nasal Discharge
- Nasal Congestion
- Hives (raised red, itchy bumps on the skin)
How Common Are Allergies?
Roughly 35 million people in the U.S. have allergies. Allergy symptoms account for more doctor visits than any other single disease, and they are the leading cause of missed school days.
Are Allergies Inherited?
Specific allergies are not inherited – but you can inherit the tendency to develop allergies. For example, if one parent has allergies, their children have a 50% chance of developing them, too. If both parents suffer from allergies, then the probability of their children developing allergies increases to 75-80%.
Major Allergens – Seasonal
These allergies are only active during certain times of the year and include pollens such as:
If you have seasonal allergies, keep an eye on your local pollen count. The higher it goes the worse allergy symptoms can be for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
Major Allergens – Perennial (continuingly recurring)
These allergies bother people all year long and include:
- Dust Mites
- Mold Spores
- Animal/Pet Dander
Depending on weather conditions, dust and mold allergies can worsen during certain times of the year, but they can be present year-round, as well.
Avoidance (Avoiding Allergens)
You can take action to minimize and avoid exposure to bothersome allergens. Methods include:
- Dust-Free Bedroom
- Mold Control & Elimination
- Pollen Avoidance
- Avoid Pets or Keep Pets Outside
- Use HEPA Filters (vacuums, air purifiers, air conditioning, etc.)
Medications for Allergies
There are a variety of medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – are available to treat allergies, including:
- Antihistamines (such as Benadryl®, Xyzal®) – help control “wet symptoms,” such as sneezing, runny nose and post-nasal drop
- Decongestants (such as Sudafed®, Nasal Sprays) – help reduce congestion by shrinking nasal tissues
- Steroid nasal sprays (such as Flonase, Nasonex, Rhinocort)
- Note that use of decongestant sprays (Afrin) not recommended for long term allergy use
Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
Most commonly called “Allergy Shots,” these injections stimulate the formation of blocking antibodies which then prevent the allergic reactions. Allergy shots are customized for each person’s allergies once a comprehensive allergy test is done. The shots are then given regularly (usually weekly) for an extended period of time to allow the body to build up resistance to allergens.
If you’d like more information or if you want to schedule an appointment with one of our allergy specialists, please contact our Allergy Department: (304) 340-2201