Written by 8:03 pm Medical Conditions

Allergies? Here’s What You Need to Know About Common Triggers & Treatment

Learn all about allergies, discover common triggers, and find out the most effective treatment opti…

What are Allergies?

Allergies are an abnormal response of the body to a substance known as an allergen. Allergens come in many forms, including pollen, pet dander, certain foods, medications, and insect venom. When a person is exposed to an allergen, it triggers an immune system response, leading to inflammation and numerous uncomfortable symptoms.

Common Allergens

Common allergens include:

  • Pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Certain foods like milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, wheat, and shellfish
  • Medications such as penicillin

These allergens can be found in both indoor and outdoor environments. For instance, pollen is predominately found outdoors while mold and dust mites are typically found indoors.

Allergy Triggers

Allergies, simply put, occur when your body’s immune system responds to something that is not typically harmful. For some people, this can be triggered by certain elements in the environment such as pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust mites. Those who suffer from allergies may experience symptoms like a runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and even wheezing.

Allergy triggers range from environmental allergens like pollen or pet dander to specific foods. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common triggers:

  • Dust Mites: Dust mites are microscopic insect-like creatures that live in mattresses, carpets, upholstered furniture, and other fabrics. They feed on the tiny particles that make up dust and favor humid environments. Dust mites significantly contribute to allergic reactions.
  • Pollen: Pollen is a fine powder released by certain plants and trees during their reproductive cycles. This fine powder contains proteins that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
  • Pet Dander: Tiny particles of animal skin, fur, and saliva are referred to as pet dander, and these can cause allergic reactions. Pet dander is most often associated with cats and dogs but can trigger allergies from any type of animal.

It’s important to note that many things can act as triggers for allergies, so those who suffer should try to identify their individual triggers to find relief.

Types of Allergy Symptoms

Many people can suffer from allergies even if they don’t have any other health problems. Allergies are an overreaction from the body’s immune system to a substance or allergen. Even if you don’t have asthma or any other chronic conditions, you may still experience allergy symptoms.

Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Hives or skin rash
  • Nausea or vomiting

In more severe cases, allergies can cause anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Swollen lips, tongue, and face
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Throat constriction
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these severe allergy symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Typical Treatment Options

Allergies often cause uncomfortable and frustrating reactions that can negatively impact your daily life. Thankfully, there are several different treatment options that are available to help relieve allergy symptoms.

One of the most popular treatment options for allergies is over-the-counter medications. These medications help to reduce inflammation and constrict the blood vessels which results in less swelling and itching. Common antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra). Corticosteroids can also be used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce symptoms.

Prescription medications are another option for treating allergies, though they should only be used as directed by a doctor. These medications can be more powerful than over-the-counter options, but they may also have more side effects. Examples of prescription antihistamines are desloratadine (Clarinex) and levocetirizine (Xyzal).

Immunotherapy is another option for treating allergies. This type of therapy involves exposing the body to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen in order to build up tolerance. This therapy is most often done through shots or drops that are administered in increasing amounts over time.

Other treatments such as nasal irrigation, saline sprays, and neti pots can also be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation helps to flush out irritants and allergens from the nasal passages, while saline sprays and neti pots can help keep the sinuses moist and reduce inflammation.

Finally, lifestyle changes can be an effective way to reduce allergy symptoms and prevent flare-ups. This might include avoiding certain triggers, such as dust mites or pollen, or minimizing contact with common allergens. Washing bedding and vacuuming regularly can also be very helpful.

Desensitization Techniques

The process of desensitization, also known as allergy immunotherapy, is done when a person is given small doses of an allergen over time. This exposure is meant to build up the body’s immunity to a certain allergen and lessen the reactions. This process can be administered in two ways: subcutaneously, which involves injection, or orally, which involves taking drops of a solution containing the allergens.

During the desensitization process, the dosage will be gradually increased over time until a certain level has been reached. This is done to achieve a desired result, and lower the intensity of reactions experienced when exposed to the allergen. The length of time for the treatment will vary depending on the type of allergen being treated, however, the process is usually completed within three to five years.

For those suffering from allergies, desensitization techniques can be helpful in reducing reactions and offering relief from discomfort. Although the process takes some time, the long-term results are worth the commitment.

Allergies are incredibly common, and their symptoms can range from mild to severe. With the right knowledge and information, those that suffer from allergies can prevent triggers and manage the symptoms.

This guide delves into allergy 101: introducing the reader to common triggers and available treatments. We’ll discuss what allergies are, different types of triggers, how to identify symptoms, various treatment options, and desensitization techniques. With this information, readers will have the tools they need to better manage their allergies.

The first step in preventing and managing allergies is to understand what they are. Allergies are an immune system response where the body overreacts to substances it identifies as foreign or dangerous—even though they are not. Common triggers for allergies include dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and certain foods.

When someone has been exposed to an allergen, the immune system responds with a variety of allergy symptoms. These can include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin reactions. In more extreme cases, some allergens may cause difficulty breathing, nausea, and even heart palpitations. To accurately diagnose the presence of an allergy, sufferers can consult their physician or specialist for testing.

Once an allergy has been identified, it’s important to know the various treatment options. These can include medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Other approaches include allergen immunotherapy, which is a process of desensitization through repeated exposure to allergens, and lifestyle changes like avoiding triggers and reducing indoor humidity.

The final takeaway is to never give up on finding relief from allergies. Knowing the root cause of one’s sensitivities and using the correct preventive measures can go a long way in combating the symptoms. Even when the allergies become too much to bear, there are many treatments available to manage them in the long-term.

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Last modified: December 17, 2022