Allergies are growing more and more common among Americans. An estimated 40% of the population suffers from some kind of allergy or allergic reaction. This leads to many days of missed work and school for the overall population, but there are ways you can combat your allergies, regain control of your immune system and relief from all of the miserable symptoms.
What is an Allergy?
An allergic reaction is caused when the immune system reacts to certain substances that are usually harmless. These substances are called antigens or allergens and can include plant pollen, food, dust, animal dander and some medications. When the immune system identifies an antigen it produces an antibody. This antibody causes the cells in the body to release a chemical called histamine. When the histamine starts running through the body's system, it causes runny nose, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing, and sometimes skin irritations. An Allergic reaction acts like a chain reaction throughout the body. Allergies are often hereditary and are passed down through the genes.
Some of the most common allergic reactions result from:
Airborn Antigens - Some of the most common types of allergies come from airborn particles. These allergic reactions are caused as a result of inhaling the antigens from the air itself. Some examples of this include pollen from trees, flowers and grasses, animal dander from pets, dust and mold.
Food - Any type of food can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a food allergy can include nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. Most experts agree that the most common causes of good allergies are milk and other dairy products, wheat, peanuts, eggs and soy.
Insect Stings - The poison from an insect sting can cause an allergic reaction in some people. People who are allergic to a particular poison from an insect bite can experience severe reactions such as anaphylaxis. These severe reactions usually occur extremely quickly and need immediate medical intervention.
Medicines - The use of certain antibiotics is the most common allergic reaction from medications. Always be sure to report reactions to medications to your physician as soon as possible. Over the counter medications have also been reported to cause allergic reactions in some people. Again, it is always best to consult with your health care provider or your pharmacist as soon as possible.
Seasonal allergies play a big role in weakening your body's immune system, increasing your chances of catching colds and other illnesses. The best treatment and relief for allergies is to avoid contact with the substances that cause the allergic reaction. Frequent hand washing, drinking plenty of water, healthy diet and routine exercise can go a long way toward strengthening your immune system and thus helping to prevent allergies.
Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the different types of allergies:
- Clean your house frequently.
- Always change your clothes after being outside, exposed to pollen.
- Keep your windows and doors closed during peak pollen seasons.
- Wash your hands after any activity outdoors or after house work such as dusting.
- Once you’ve identified a food that causes an allergic reaction, avoid this type of food.
- Read labels to ensure that you are not consuming something that has a particular food you are allergic to as an ingredient.
- Always wear shoes when you are going to be outdoors.
- Avoid areas that are heavily populated by insects such as bees.
- Have medication on hand such as Benedryl in case you're stung by an insect you are allergic to.
- Discuss possible side effects of the medication with your doctor.
- Be sure your medication allergy is noted in your medical charts for future reference.
- Never take a medication you know you are allergic to. Always be aware of what you are consuming.
Allergies don't have to rule your life. There are daily medications that can be taken along with the preventative methods listed above. Talk with your physician about other ways you can control and find relief for your seasonal allergies. Taking care of your health and being a bit vigilant can go a long way toward preventing allergic reactions.