Spring is in the air and for many people, that means allergies are, too. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, you know how miserable they can make you feel.
Do you have allergies? You’re not alone. In fact, allergies are quite common. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
There are many different types of allergies, and the symptoms can vary depending on the person and the severity of the allergy. Some people might have a mild reaction, while others may have a more severe reaction that could even be life-threatening.
It’s important to know what type of allergy you have so that you can get the proper treatment. The good news is that there are a variety of treatments available to help you get your allergies under control and enjoy the warmer weather.
Types of Allergies
There are many different types of allergies, some of them are as follows:
If you have a food allergy, your body has a reaction to a protein that is found in a particular food. The most common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
People with food allergies must be very careful to avoid their allergens as even a small amount can trigger a severe reaction.
Symptoms of a food allergy reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur which can be life-threatening.
Seasonal allergies are also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. They occur when your body has a reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds. Seasonal allergies are more common in the spring and fall but can occur year-round in some parts of the country.
Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and fatigue.
Pet allergies are caused by proteins found in an animal’s skin cells or saliva. These proteins become airborne and can cause an allergic reaction when inhaled.
Pet allergies are relatively common; in fact, 15% of people with allergies are allergic to cats and dogs. Symptoms include sneezing; runny nose; watery eyes; coughing; wheezing; and itchy skin (hives).
A contact allergy occurs when your skin comes into direct contact with an allergen such as latex or certain metals (nickel is a common one). Poison ivy is another type of contact allergy that occurs when your skin touches the oil found in poison ivy plants.
Symptoms of a contact allergy include redness, itchiness, swelling, and blisters. Treatment typically involves avoiding the allergen and using topical corticosteroids or oral antihistamines to relieve symptoms.
There is no cure for allergies but there are treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms so you can enjoy your life without being miserable.
Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are a treatment that can help reduce or eliminate your symptoms of allergies. The shots contain a small amount of the allergen that is causing your reaction and are given over a period of time. This treatment helps to “desensitize” your body to the allergen and can help lessen or prevent future reactions.
Immunotherapy is a type of allergy treatment that helps your body build up immunity to your allergens over time so that you will have fewer and less severe reactions. It is usually given as shots but can also be given as sublingual tablets or drops that are placed under the tongue.
Immunotherapy is not appropriate for everyone so it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether it might be right for you.
Antihistamines are a medication that is used to treat allergic reactions. They work by blocking the action of histamine, which is what causes many of the symptoms of an allergy. These can be taken orally or applied topically (such as in eyedrops).
Nasal sprays are a medication that is used to treat nasal allergies. They work by shrinking the swollen tissues in your nose and helping to clear out mucus and other allergens. Nasal sprays can be used daily to help control your allergies.
Decongestants are a medication that is used to treat nasal congestion caused by allergies. They work by shrinking the swollen blood vessels in your nose and helping to clear out mucus and other allergens.
Decongestants should only be used for a short period of time as they can cause side effects such as high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and headaches.
For more severe symptoms or for people who cannot take oral medications due to other health conditions such as asthma or heart disease, there are injectable medications available that can provide relief.
Eye drops are a medication that is used to treat itchy, watery eyes caused by allergies. They work by reducing inflammation in the eyes and help to relieve symptoms quickly. Available over-the-counter or by prescription, eye drops should be used regularly to keep your eyes comfortable and symptom-free
If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from allergies, you’re not alone—allergies are actually quite common. And while they may seem like nothing more than a nuisance at times, it’s important to be aware of the different types of allergies and how to treat them should you come into contact with an allergen.
With proper diagnosis and treatment from an allergist at , you can get your allergies under control so that you can enjoy all the best parts of spring—without all the sneezing!