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What You Need to Know About Allergies

Often, people only think of an allergy as “hay fever”, showing symptoms such as stuffiness of the nose, running nose, watery eyes, itchiness and sneezing. However, an allergic reaction can also cause more severe symptoms such as head congestion, chronic sinus problem, frequent colds, eczema (skin allergies), asthma, chronic cough, throat drainage, dizziness and excessive fatigue. Intestinal and stomach problems could also point to allergies.

What Occurs During an Allergic Reaction?

An allergic reaction happens after the body’s immune system treats the allergen like an invader. The body then produces antibodies that help to recognize the same allergen if it enters the body again. When the same allergen enters the body, the body is able to recognize it and what follows is a series of reactions. Possible reactions involve blood vessel dilation and cellular destruction which triggers the production of many inflammatory chemicals, one of which is histamine. Histamine is responsible for some of the common allergy symptoms such as sneezing, hives, shortness of breath and scratchy throat. The best way of managing allergens is recognizing the common allergens and avoiding them.

Common Allergens

The most common allergens are pollen, dust, feathers, animal dander, mold, food and medications such as penicillin.

Pollen

During springtime, allergic rhinitis is often as a result of pollen contamination from trees such as maple, elm, beech, oak, cypress, walnut, alder, cottonwood, birch and poplar. These trees cause allergic reactions during early spring. Later spring allergens often come from grasses such as sweet vernal, red top, sweet vernal, Bermuda Johnson and Timothy grass. Ragweed pollen is also another major cause of allergic rhinitis. Ragweed pollen begins pollinating around mid-autumn.

Household Allergens

There are certain allergens that are present full-time. These include pet dander, mold and dust mites. Symptoms resulting for these allergens worsen during winter when houses are less ventilated, or when air conditioners are in regular use.

Mold

Mold spores are also a common cause of allergy problems. They are particularly dangerous because they are present all year round. They are also widespread because they can grow both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor mold spores mainly originate from dead leaves and mold areas. Bathrooms, indoor plants and old books area major source of indoor mold spores.

How Can Exposure Be Reduced?

1. When cleaning the house of mowing the lawn, it is advisable to wear a dust mask.
2. You need to change air filters in the air conditioning systems on a regular basis. Filters in vacuum cleaners also need to be changed, especially during winter.
3. During spring and autumn, it is important to keep doors and windows closed because these are heavy pollen seasons.
4. Ensure that you clear bushy and damp areas.
5. Ensure that carpets and rugs are regularly cleaned and aired, especially if you keep pets in the house.

Managing Allergies

For most people, allergy symptoms are seasonal; it is also possible to outgrow allergic reactions. For mold and other allergens that are present all year round, the best way to manage such allergies is to use multiple approaches. This may include protecting yourself to reduce exposure and taking over the counter medication. This may include allergy drops or shots. Allergy medications include antihistamine sprays, steroid sprays and decongestants. Over the counter medication may cause drowsiness and should be taken as prescribed by a physician. Allergic reactions vary widely and you need professional advice and examination from Piedmont Ear Nose and Throat doctors.

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