Allergies are one of the leading causes of chronic illness in the United States, with over 50 million Americans suffering from different types of allergies each year. Allergies are also the most common cause of health issues among children.
There is no cure for allergies, although medication and allergy treatments focus on managing and alleviating symptoms. The most common types of allergies in the United States involve pollen, dust mites, foods, molds, animal dander, insect stings, latex, and medications. Allergies caused by pollen usually only occur seasonally, while other types of allergies are triggered by a sudden exposure/consumption to the specific allergen(s).
What are allergies?
An allergy is defined as a condition in which the human body’s immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance that may or may not cause similar reactions in other people. When exposed to specific allergens, the body’s immune system produces antibodies that react to specific substances which cause allergic reactions. This is known as an immune response. These reactions may be expressed as inflammations or other reactions on the skin, in the digestive system, in the airways, and more.
What are the different types of allergies?
The most common allergies in the U.S. that often require treatment are:
- Food allergy
- Dust mite allergy
- Pollen allergy
- Skin allergy
- Animal dander allergy
- Insect sting allergy
- Latex allergy
- Drug allergy
- Mold allergy
What are the causes of allergies?
Once the body signals an immune response to specific triggers, which classifies them as a threat to the body, the body remains on alert in case of an exposure to these triggers. On further exposure, the body’s immune response involves antibodies creating and secreting chemicals (such as histamine) which triggers an allergic response(s). These triggers or allergens can be airborne (dust, pollen, etc.), involve foods (peanuts, seafood, soy products), medications, and much more.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Allergy symptoms vary based on the person, the specific allergen that is triggered, and the person’s allergic reaction to it. In most cases, allergic reactions begin within minutes of exposure. In other cases, allergic reactions may set in slowly and then escalate into a more severe allergic reaction. The most common symptoms expressed with allergies are:
- Continuous sneezing
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, red, and watery eyes
- Swelling in lips, tongue, eyes, and/or face
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Cracked and itchy skin
- Flaking or peeling of skin
While these are the most common symptoms that often occur in different types of allergies, there are specific symptoms that clearly indicate a specific allergen as the root cause of the reaction. For example, the consumption of peanuts, shellfish, and/or soy products may be fine for some, but produce violent, allergic reactions in others. These symptoms can include:
- Swelling in the eyes, lips, throat, etc.
- Abdominal pain
- Redness of the skin
- Tingling in the mouth
Dust from pollen can cause continuous sneezing, throat allergy, and watering of eyes in some, while hives and edema are common reactions to food, drug, or insect sting allergies for others. Allergic reactions to specific triggers can also set off asthma or rhinitis in some which causes breathlessness and/or watery eyes during the allergy season.
What are the complications of allergies?
In rare cases, the body may produce severe reactions that can be life-threatening. This condition is known as anaphylaxis, where the body goes into an anaphylactic shock based on an allergic reaction. Some of the signs of anaphylactic shock include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Swelling in the lips, throat, and mouth
- Loss of consciousness
- Bluish tinges on skin and lips
When anaphylactic shock sets in, the whole body reacts in minutes. The only way to treat this condition is to classify this as a medical emergency and rush the patient to emergency care for treatment.
Those susceptible to allergies are also likely to develop conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, and other respiratory infections. Similarly, a family history of such conditions can also make people more prone to developing allergies at some point in life.
When to see a doctor for your allergies?
If you have been constantly experiencing respiratory issues, continued headaches, a persistent and unproductive cough, and/or throat congestions, it could indicate you have developed an allergic reaction or that your existing allergies require treatment. Schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional at Prime Urgent Care if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chronic sinusitis
- Significant nasal congestions
- Hay fever
- Tightness in the chest
- Wheezing and/or coughing
- Antihistamines and OTC medicines do not help
If you are experiencing any symptoms that indicate you may be going into anaphylaxis shock, call 9-1-1 or seek immediate medical attention at a hospital or ER.
How are allergies diagnosed?
The medical teams at Prime Urgent Care adopt the following step-wise approach to diagnose allergies:
- Examination of personal and family medical history
- Examination of physical symptoms
- Start appropriate treatment based on the above
The patient may be advised to seek formal allergy testing based on the above history and exam. Tests to detect specific allergies include:
- Lung function tests
- Skin prick tests
- Intradermal skin tests
- Blood tests (such as specific IgE or serum total IgE)
- Patch tests
- Supervised challenge tests
- Food challenge tests
- Sting tests
How are allergies treated?
The best treatment for allergies that your physicians at Prime Urgent Care will recommend include:
- Identification of the triggers and then avoiding them as much as possible
- Simple, over-the-counter medicines, nasal sprays, or eyedrops
In case of severe allergies, your physician may recommend the following:
- Immunotherapy (injectable purified allergen extracts or sublingual drops)
- Emergency epinephrine shots (in the form of pens that need to be carried on a person at all times)
How can allergies be prevented?
Allergic reactions to specific allergen triggers can usually be prevented if a few simple steps are followed:
- Identifying triggers and managing exposure to them
- Maintaining a diary to track the onset of symptoms and reactions
- In the case of severe allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet to let others know that you need to be rushed for medical treatment if a medical situation arises.
Allergies do not have to impact the quality of your life. A good amount of preparation and planning can help you manage allergic symptoms and reduce (or eliminate) health complications from allergies. While most allergies cannot be completely treated, they can be effectively managed, so don’t allow allergies to take over your life. Visit Allergic Reactions & Treatment | Prime Urgent Care | Pearland, TX (primeuc.com) for more information on how to manage your allergies. To schedule an walk-in appointment at our urgent care facility contact 713-340-311 or visit www.primeuc.com to check-in online.
- What is the best treatment for allergies?
The best treatment for allergies that your medical teams at Prime Urgent Care will recommend are:
– Identification of the triggers (allergens) and avoiding them
– Simple, over-the-counter medicines, nasal sprays, or eyedrops
In case of severe allergies, your healthcare professional may recommend:
– Immunotherapy (injectable purified allergen extracts or as sublingual drops)
– Emergency epinephrine shots in the form of pens that need to be carried on the person at all times
- What helps relieve allergies fast?
For immediate relief from allergies, healthcare professional will often recommend:
– Use of antihistamines and other anti-allergy medication
– Oral decongestants
– Nasal spray
– Eye drops
- What causes an allergy?
An allergy is defined as a condition in which the human body’s immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance that may or may not cause similar reactions in other people. When exposed to specific triggers, the body’s immune system produces antibodies that react to specific allergens and cause allergic reactions. The most common allergies include pollen allergy, dust mite allergy, food allergy, drug allergy, animal dander allergy, etc.
- Can allergy be cured completely?
Allergies can never be cured completely. The good news, however, is that you can manage them effectively with proper planning and preparation. Simple precautions and preventive measures, such as avoiding the specific triggers that aggravate your allergies, can go a long way. Additionally, natural remedies and simple OTC medication can help provide relief after the onset of most allergic symptoms.
Prime Urgent Care is a walk-in medical clinic that offers urgent care services in the Pearland (Houston), Texas and Missouri City, Texas. Our urgent care clinic is open 7-Days a week with extended hours. We offer Covid-19 testing, telemedicine appointments and online-check in so contact us at 713-340-3111 or www.primeuc.com for high-quality and affordable healthcare.