Allergies: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

We are all familiar with allergies. We know the irritating runny noses, the itchy and watery eyes, and the common discomfort we feel when battling them. However, we don’t always know what is causing our allergies or why we have them. It can be even more difficult to distinguish what symptoms are associated with what allergens and what medication is right for you. Below, we discuss many of these factors and hopefully we can make your next allergy battle a little easier.

What causes my allergies?

We are familiar with allergies and how our bodies respond to them, but we often don’t know why our body is reacting to begin with. Essentially we experience allergies when our body and immune system react to a foreign substance like pollen or pet dander that it views as being harmful. Our immune system naturally produces antibodies to help us fight off infections and keep us healthy, but allergies occur when our body produces these antibodies that identify a specific allergen as harmful even though it is not. So when our immune system reacts to these allergens we get the inflamed skin, sinuses and other symptoms.

What are the different types of allergies and the symptoms?

The specific symptoms one will face depend on the allergen involved and the severity of your reaction can also vary from mild to severe. Each person reacts differently depending on the allergen, but there are some certain symptoms that are commonly associated with particular allergens.

Dust and Pollen:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Cough

Food Allergies:

  • Vomiting
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis (Can cause you to go into shock and is considered a life-threatening emergency)

Insect sting allergies:

  • Wheezing
  • Large area of swelling at the sting site
  • Itching or hives all over the body
  • Cough, chest tightness, shortness of breathe
  • Dizziness
  • Anaphylaxis (Can cause you to go into shock and is considered a life-threatening emergency)

Medication:

  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Wheezing
  • Facial swelling
  • Anaphylaxis (Can cause you to go into shock and is considered a life-threatening emergency)

Anaphylaxis:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Dizziness and fainting

 

What are my treatment options?

As the variety of allergens and symptoms indicate, allergies do not all fall into one category or another, and the treatment of them is equally diverse. It can be a challenge to siphon through the variety of medical terms and labels you see when staring at a wall of allergy medication at your local store or pharmacy, but hopefully our breakdown below will make the task just a little easier. It’s also important to note that medication will not cure your allergy, but serves a purpose in helping to manage the symptoms of a reaction. As always, it’s important to speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication.

Antihistamines:

  • The immune system releases histamine during an allergic reaction and antihistamines are designed to block this action from occurring.

Decongestants:

  • Designed to relieve a stuffy or blocked nose and allow relief from nasal congestion.

Corticosteroids:

  • These are designed to reduce the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction and come in a variety of forms. Corticosteroids can be found in the form of a pill, cream, nasal spray or inhaler.

Immunotherapy:

  • This comes in the form of a tablet or injection and is designed to assist a person in developing a long-term tolerance for an allergen. It is designed to be taken in a gradually increasing dose that enables your body to become more tolerant over time.

Treating anaphylaxis:

  • Anaphylaxis is a potential medical emergency that in some cases can be life threatening. People experiencing anaphylaxis may have difficulty breathing following their exposure to an allergen and they will need immediate treatment, most commonly in the form of an auto-injector. The EpiPen is a common auto-injector and the one many of us are familiar with. It is recommended by the FDA that any person who is at risk of anaphylaxis should carry an EpiPen with them at all times because it can take place at any time and a person may not know it’s coming.

When should I see a doctor?

It is recommended you see a doctor if you believe the symptoms you are having are caused by an allergy and you have not found relief through over-the-counter products. If you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, please call 911 and seek emergency medical help.

About NextCare Holdings

NextCare Holdings, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest providers of urgent care and occupational medical services, with an emphasis on customer service to ensure patients experience the highest level of care. NextCare Holdings operates 135 urgent care facilities in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming. For more information, please visit www.NextCare.com or call 888-381-4858. For the latest news, follow NextCare on Twitter (@NextCare) and Facebook.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264419#risk-factors