Gearing Up for Allergy Season
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 05:39PM
Jenn

The time has come.  Spring is in the air and allergens are ready to pounce.  They come in many forms and may be applied on the skin, inhaled, ingested, or injected through a sting.  At least 20% of Americans suffer from a variety of allergies throughout the year.  WHC’s Dr. Joseph Thirumalareddy, MD has treated allergies and shares his advice for limiting their effect on day-to-day life.  Information was also adapted from webmd.com, uptodate.com and mayoclinic.org.

How does an allergy form?
The immune system is the body's organized defense mechanism against foreign invaders called antigens (i.e. viruses and bacteria).  It triggers the body to produce proteins called antibodies to fight the antigens.  However, some people develop a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E that fights off substances that are normally harmless (i.e. dander, pollen and insects).  This reaction creates an “allergy” in some people.

What are the most common forms of allergies?
Allergies can occur with a variety of food, medicine, pollen, dust, mold, plants or animals to name a few.  The most common allergies in food include gluten, dairy, nuts, seafood, eggs and soy.  Those who are allergic to animals are actually having a reaction to their dander (dead skin that is shed), saliva or urine.  Whatever the allergy, there are different reactions that can occur including asthma, allergic conjunctivitis (itchy/watery eyes), allergic rhinitis (runny/stuffy nose), swelling and hives.   

How does a provider test for allergies?
Your provider will ask about symptoms and perform an exam.  They may also use a skin test where a drop of the alleged substance causing the allergy is put on the skin, and a tiny prick is made.  The patient will be monitored to see if the skin develops a reaction, diagnosing the cause of the allergy.

Why do some people and not others suffer from allergies?
There are numerous factors.  Genetics can play a large role.  Research has also shown that children born via C-section have a higher risk of developing allergies later in life.  Boys are also more likely to form allergies than girls.  Exposure to antigens, tobacco smoke and use of antibiotics can also be factors.  This complicated issue continues to be an area of medical research.

How possible is it for children to grow out of their allergies?
It is more common for children with food allergies, but it depends on the food.  As many as 85% of children with a milk, egg or soy allergy will eventually outgrow them, whereas those with a peanut allergy have only a 20% chance.

What are some ways to prevent succumbing to the onset of an allergy?
When trying to identify exactly what causes or worsens your allergic symptoms, keep track of all your activities.  Write down when symptoms occur and what seems to relieve them.  This may help you and your provider identify triggers and plan steps to prevent and treat your allergies.  I would also recommend starting to take your allergy medicine prior to that time of year when your allergies usually flare up.  Note that some allergic reactions are also triggered or worsened by temperature extremes and emotional stress.  

What remedies do you recommend when allergies start to take their toll?

Dr. Joseph Thirumalareddy, MD

  1. Saline sinus rinses - Rinsing out your nose with a salt water solution disinfects and clears the nasal cavities, preventing allergies and infections from setting in.  Talk to your provider about the different devices available for nasal rinses.
  2. Steroid nose sprays - Providers often prescribe these sprays first, but give it time to kick in as they can take days, sometimes weeks, before they start to work.  
  3. Antihistamines - These medicines can stop itching, sneezing and runny nose symptoms.  Note that drowsiness accompanies some antihistamines and they should also not be given to young children.
  4. Allergy shots - Allergy shots are prescribed by an allergist and can be administered at our clinics.  These shots can also help lower your child’s risk of getting asthma later in life.
  5. Over-the-counter medication - If you want to try nonprescription medicines, be sure to read the directions carefully.  Some, like medicines used to treat a stuffy nose or red eyes, are not safe for young children.

 

Article originally appeared on wishekhc (http://wishekhospital.com/).
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