Itchy eyes, sneezing, rash, congestion...all may be a sign of seasonal allergies. Grass, pollen, mold, pet dander and food can all be the culprit.
What are Allergies?
Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as something harmful, even though it isn't. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system's reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can't be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Anyone may have or develop an allergy. The allergy cannot be prevented, but the reaction can be. Once a person becomes aware they are allergic to a certain thing, they can do there best to avoid contact. There are also medications available to counteract symptoms.
- The most common allergic diseases include: hay fever, asthma, conjunctivitis, hives, eczema, dermatitis and sinusitis.
- Food allergies are most prevalent in young children and are frequently outgrown.
- Latex allergies are a reaction to the proteins in latex rubber, a substance used in gloves, condoms and other products.
- Bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants can cause insect sting allergies.
- Allergies to drugs, like penicillin, can affect any tissue or organ in the body.
You may want to see a doctor if you have symptoms you think may be caused by an allergy, especially if you notice something in your environment that seems to trigger your allergies. If you have symptoms after starting a new medication, call the doctor who prescribed it right away.
For a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), call 911 or your local emergency number or seek emergency medical help. If you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen, EpiPen Jr or Twinject), give yourself a shot right away. Even if symptoms improve after an emergency epinephrine injection, a visit to the emergency department is still necessary to make sure symptoms don't return when the effects of the injection wear off.