Allergies are a major cause of illness in the United States. As many as 50 million people – about one in five – have allergies.
An allergy occurs when your body’s natural defenses overreact to exposure to a particular substance, treating it as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend against it.
If you suffer from allergies you may want to get an appointment with an allergy doctor.
Allergies can be caused by many different things. Some of the more common are explained below.
Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A food allergy reaction happens when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in a food, identifying it as a danger and triggering a protective response.
While allergies tend to run in families, it is impossible to predict whether a child will inherit a parent’s food allergy or whether siblings will have a similar condition. Some research does suggest that the younger siblings of a child with a peanut allergy will also be allergic to peanuts.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. Just because an initial reaction causes few problems doesn’t mean that all reactions will be similar; a food that triggered only mild symptoms on one occasion may cause more severe symptoms at another time.
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis — a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction that can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in your blood pressure and affect your heart rate. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
While any food can cause an allergic reaction, 90 percent of all food allergies tend to come from 8 types of food.
Foods that can cause allergies include:
- Tree nuts
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
- A repetitive cough
- Shock or circulatory collapse
- Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
- Weak pulse
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock.
Most food-related allergy symptoms happen within two hours of exposure, but they can also happen within minutes or in rare cases, not for 4-6 hours.
Once a food allergy is diagnosed by an allergy doctor, the most effective treatment is to avoid the food.
If you believe that you may have a food allergy, request an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.
Skin allergies usually present as bumps, itching, redness, and rashes. However, their cause can be hard to identify. Skin allergies can be caused by many things including plants, mediation, food or even an illness. The most common types of skin rashes are eczema and hives.
Eczema affects between 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults. Eczema usually presents as dry, red irritated itchy skin. It can get infected and may have small bumps filled with a clear or yellowish liquid. People with eczema usually have a family history of allergies.
Hives are red bumps or welts that appear after contact with an allergen. Hives can be both short term and long term. Acute hives last for no more than 6 weeks, however, chronic hives can last much longer and the cause is usually unknown.
Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that happens when your skin comes into contact with an allergen. Symptoms usually include a rash, blisters, itching, and burning. This reaction can be caused by soaps, laundry soap, fabric softener or even water. Metals such as in jewelry can also cause contact dermatitis.
If you believe that you may have a skin allergy it is a good idea to call an allergy doctor. Request an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.
Dust allergies are not actually caused by dust, but the microscopic dust mites that live in it. An allergy to dust mites can trigger asthma or eczema and can usually be worse after vacuuming or cleaning because the dust has been stirred up making it easier to breathe in.
Dust Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of dust allergies include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Red, itchy or teary eyes
- Wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath
If your dust allergy is severe, you can make some changes to your home to try to reduce your symptoms.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpets, curtains, and drapes.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house.
- Minimize household humidity.
- Use “mite-proof” cases on mattresses and pillows
- Wash bed linens frequently in hot water.
- Wear a mask when cleaning
If you believe that you may have a dust allergy it’s a good idea to see an allergy doctor. Request an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.
Pet allergies can cause constant symptoms, even if the per is not present. Cats and dogs are the most frequent cause of pet allergies, however, some people may be allergic to horses and other animals also.
- Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
- Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
- Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Skin rash or hives
Dogs and cats produce multiple proteins that can cause allergies. These allergens are found on their fur and in their saliva. Dust and pollen can get trapped in their fur and can also cause allergy symptoms. In this case, your allergy may not be to the animal at all.
A skin-prick test is the most common way of diagnosing a pet allergy. For this test, a small amount of an extract of the allergen is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin’s surface. You’ll then be monitored for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction, signaling an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.
If you believe that you may have a pet allergy it’s a good idea to see an allergy doctor. Request an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.
If you develop a rash, hives or difficulty breathing after taking certain medications, you may have a drug allergy. As with other allergic reactions, these symptoms can occur when your body’s immune system becomes sensitized to a substance in the medication, perceives it as a foreign invader and releases chemicals to defend against it.
Drug allergy symptoms can include:
- Skin rash or hives
- Wheezing or other breathing problems
Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can simultaneously affect two or more organ systems (for example, when there is both a rash and difficulty breathing)
- Common drugs people are allergic to include:
- Penicillin and related antibiotics
- Antibiotics containing sulfonamides (sulfa drugs)
- Aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Chemotherapy drugs
If you believe that you may be allergic to a drug it’s a good idea to see an allergy doctor. Request an appointment with Dr. Gautam today.