What are the allergies

In rare cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening.

This affects the whole body and usually develops within minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to.

Signs of anaphylaxis include any of the symptoms above, as well as:

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Read more about anaphylaxis for information about what to do if it occurs.

Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021

Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

In rare cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening.

This affects the whole body and usually develops within minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to.

Signs of anaphylaxis include any of the symptoms above, as well as:

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Read more about anaphylaxis for information about what to do if it occurs.

Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021

Avoidance

The first approach in managing seasonal or perennial forms of hay fever should be to avoid the allergens that trigger symptoms.

Outdoor exposure

  1. Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are at their peak, generally during the midmorning and early evening (this may vary according to plant pollen), and when wind is blowing pollens around.
  2. Avoid using window fans that can draw pollens and molds into the house.
  3. Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the quantity of pollen getting into your eyes.
  4. Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry; pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
  5. Wear a pollen mask (such as a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask) when mowing the lawn, raking leaves or gardening, and take appropriate medication beforehand.
  6. Try not to rub your eyes; doing so will irritate them and could make your symptoms worse.

Indoor exposure

  1. Keep windows closed, and use air conditioning in your car and home.

    Make certain to hold your air conditioning unit clean.

  2. Reduce exposure to dust mites, especially in the bedroom. Use “mite-proof” covers for pillows, comforters and duvets, and mattresses and box springs. Wash your bedding frequently, using boiling water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. To limit exposure to mold, hold the humidity in your home low (between 30 and 50 percent) and clean your bathrooms, kitchen and basement regularly. Use a dehumidifier, especially in the basement and in other damp, humid places, and empty and clean it often.

    If mold is visible, clean it with mild detergent and a 5 percent bleach solution as directed by an allergist.

  4. Clean floors with a damp rag or mop, rather than dry-dusting or sweeping.

Exposure to pets

  1. Wash your hands immediately after petting any animals; wash your clothes after visiting friends with pets.
  2. If you are allergic to a household pet, hold the animal out of your home as much as possible. If the pet must be inside, hold it out of the bedroom so you are not exposed to animal allergens while you sleep.
  3. Close the air ducts to your bedroom if you own forced-air or central heating or cooling.

    Replace carpeting with hardwood, tile or linoleum, every of which are easier to hold dander-free.

Medications

Many allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis are airborne, so you can’t always avoid them. If your symptoms can’t be well-controlled by simply avoiding triggers, your allergist may recommend medications that reduce nasal congestion, sneezing, and an itchy and runny nose. They are available in numerous forms — oral tablets, liquid medication, nasal sprays and eyedrops. Some medications may own side effects, so discuss these treatments with your allergist so they can assist you live the life you want.

Intranasal corticosteroids

Intranasal corticosteroids are the single most effective drug class for treating allergic rhinitis.

They can significantly reduce nasal congestion as well as sneezing, itching and a runny nose.

Ask your allergist about whether these medications are appropriate and safe for you. These sprays are designed to avoid the side effects that may happen from steroids that are taken by mouth or injection. Take care not to spray the medication against the middle portion of the nose (the nasal septum). The most common side effects are local irritation and nasal bleeding. Some older preparations own been shown to own some effect on children’s growth; data about some newer steroids don’t indicate an effect on growth.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis.

These medications counter the effects of histamine, the irritating chemical released within your body when an allergic reaction takes put. Although other chemicals are involved, histamine is primarily responsible for causing the symptoms. Antihistamines are found in eyedrops, nasal sprays and, most commonly, oral tablets and syrup.

Antihistamines assist to relieve nasal allergy symptoms such as:

  1. Sneezing and an itchy, runny nose
  2. Eye itching, burning, tearing and redness
  3. Itchy skin, hives and eczema

There are dozens of antihistamines; some are available over the counter, while others require a prescription.

Patients reply to them in a wide variety of ways.

Generally, the newer (second-generation) products work well and produce only minor side effects. Some people discover that an antihistamine becomes less effective as the allergy season worsens or as their allergies change over time. If you discover that an antihistamine is becoming less effective, tell your allergist, who may recommend a diverse type or strength of antihistamine. If you own excessive nasal dryness or thick nasal mucus, consult an allergist before taking antihistamines.

Contact your allergist for advice if an antihistamine causes drowsiness or other side effects.

Proper use: Short-acting antihistamines can be taken every four to six hours, while timed-release antihistamines are taken every 12 to 24 hours. The short-acting antihistamines are often most helpful if taken 30 minutes before an anticipated exposure to an allergen (such as at a picnic during ragweed season). Timed-release antihistamines are better suited to long-term use for those who need daily medications.

Proper use of these drugs is just as significant as their selection. The most effective way to use them is before symptoms develop. A dose taken early can eliminate the need for numerous later doses to reduce established symptoms. Numerous times a patient will tell that he or she “took one, and it didn’t work.” If the patient had taken the antihistamine regularly for three to four days to build up blood levels of the medication, it might own been effective.

Side effects: Older (first-generation) antihistamines may cause drowsiness or performance impairment, which can lead to accidents and personal injury.

Even when these medications are taken only at bedtime, they can still cause considerable impairment the following day, even in people who do not feel drowsy. For this reason, it is significant that you do not drive a car or work with dangerous machinery when you take a potentially sedating antihistamine. Some of the newer antihistamines do not cause drowsiness.

A frequent side effect is excessive dryness of the mouth, nose and eyes.

Less common side effects include restlessness, nervousness, overexcitability, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, euphoria, fainting, visual disturbances, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distress, constipation, diarrhea, increased or decreased urination, urinary retention, high or low blood pressure, nightmares (especially in children), sore throat, unusual bleeding or bruising, chest tightness or palpitations.

Men with prostate enlargement may encounter urinary problems while on antihistamines. Consult your allergist if these reactions occur.

Important precautions:

  1. Follow your allergist’s instructions.
  2. Alcohol and tranquilizers increase the sedation side effects of antihistamines.
  3. Keep these medications out of the reach of children.
  4. While antihistamines own been taken safely by millions of people in the final 50 years, don’t take antihistamines before telling your allergist if you are allergic to, or intolerant of, any medicine; are pregnant or intend to become pregnant while using this medication; are breast-feeding; own glaucoma or an enlarged prostate; or are ill.
  5. Some antihistamines appear to be safe to take during pregnancy, but there own not been enough studies to determine the absolute safety of antihistamines in pregnancy.

    Again, consult your allergist or your obstetrician if you must take antihistamines.

  6. Know how the medication affects you before working with heavy machinery, driving or doing other performance-intensive tasks; some products can slow your reaction time.
  7. Do not use more than one antihistamine at a time, unless prescribed.
  8. Never take anyone else’s medication.

Nasal sprays

Nonprescription saline nasal sprays will assist counteract symptoms such as dry nasal passages or thick nasal mucus.

Unlike decongestant nasal sprays, a saline nasal spray can be used as often as it is needed. Sometimes an allergist may recommend washing (douching) the nasal passage. There are numerous OTC delivery systems for saline rinses, including neti pots and saline rinse bottles.

Nasal cromolyn blocks the body’s release of allergy-causing substances. It does not work in every patients. The full dose is four times daily, and improvement of symptoms may take several weeks. Nasal cromolyn can assist prevent allergic nasal reactions if taken prior to an allergen exposure.

Nasal ipratropium bromide spray can assist reduce nasal drainage from allergic rhinitis or some forms of nonallergic rhinitis.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy may be recommended for people who don’t reply well to treatment with medications or who experience side effects from medications, who own allergen exposure that is unavoidable or who desire a more permanent solution to their allergies.

Immunotherapy can be extremely effective in controlling allergic symptoms, but it doesn’t assist the symptoms produced by nonallergic rhinitis.

Two types of immunotherapy are available: allergy shots and sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablets.

  1. Allergy shots: A treatment program, which can take three to five years, consists of injections of a diluted allergy extract, istered frequently in increasing doses until a maintenance dose is reached.

    Then the injection schedule is changed so that the same dose is given with longer intervals between injections. Immunotherapy helps the body build resistance to the effects of the allergen, reduces the intensity of symptoms caused by allergen exposure and sometimes can actually make skin test reactions vanish. As resistance develops over several months, symptoms should improve.

  2. Sublingual tablets: This type of immunotherapy was approved by the Food and Drug istration in 2014.

    Starting several months before allergy season begins, patients dissolve a tablet under the tongue daily. Treatment can continue for as endless as three years. Only a few allergens (certain grass and ragweed pollens and home dust mite) can be treated now with this method, but it is a promising therapy for the future.

Leukatriene pathway inhibitors

Leukotriene pathway inhibitors (montelukast, zafirlukast and zileuton) block the action of leukotriene, a substance in the body that can cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These drugs are also used to treat asthma.

Decongestants

Decongestants assist relieve the stuffiness and pressure caused by swollen nasal tissue.

They do not contain antihistamines, so they do not cause antihistaminic side effects. They do not relieve other symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Oral decongestants are available as prescription and nonprescription medications and are often found in combination with antihistamines or other medications. It is not unusual for patients using decongestants to experience insomnia if they take the medication in the afternoon or evening.

If this occurs, a dose reduction may be needed. At times, men with prostate enlargement may encounter urinary problems while on decongestants. Patients using medications to manage emotional or behavioral problems should discuss this with their allergist before using decongestants. Patients with high blood pressure or heart disease should check with their allergist before using. Pregnant patients should also check with their allergist before starting decongestants.

Nonprescription decongestant nasal sprays work within minutes and final for hours, but you should not use them for more than a few days at a time unless instructed by your allergist. Prolonged use can cause rhinitis medicamentosa, or rebound swelling of the nasal tissue.

Stopping the use of the decongestant nasal spray will cure that swelling, provided that there is no underlying disorder.

Oral decongestants are found in numerous over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, and may be the treatment of choice for nasal congestion. They don’t cause rhinitis medicamentosa but need to be avoided by some patients with high blood pressure. If you own high blood pressure or heart problems, check with your allergist before using them.

Eye allergy preparations and eyedrops

Eye allergy preparations may be helpful when the eyes are affected by the same allergens that trigger rhinitis, causing redness, swelling, watery eyes and itching.

OTC eyedrops and oral medications are commonly used for short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. They may not relieve every symptoms, though, and prolonged use of some of these drops may actually cause your condition to worsen.

Prescription eyedrops and oral medications also are used to treat eye allergies. Prescription eyedrops provide both short- and long-term targeted relief of eye allergy symptoms, and can be used to manage them.

Check with your allergist or pharmacist if you are unsure about a specific drug or formula.

Treatments that are not recommended for allergic rhinitis

  1. Antibiotics: Effective for the treatment of bacterial infections, antibiotics do not affect the course of uncomplicated common colds (a viral infection) and are of no benefit for noninfectious rhinitis, including allergic rhinitis.
  2. Nasal surgery: Surgery is not a treatment for allergic rhinitis, but it may assist if patients own nasal polyps or chronic sinusitis that is not responsive to antibiotics or nasal steroid sprays.

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Main allergy symptoms

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  1. sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
  2. itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
  3. a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
  4. tummy pain, feeling ill, vomiting or diarrhoea
  5. swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
  6. wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
  7. dry, red and cracked skin

The symptoms vary depending on what you’re allergic to and how you come into contact with it.

For example, you may have a runny nose if exposed to pollen, develop a rash if you own a skin allergy, or feel sick if you eat something you’re allergic to.

See your GP if you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something. They can assist determine whether the symptoms are caused by an allergy or another condition.

Read more about diagnosing allergies.


Overview

Your immune system is responsible for defending the body against bacteria and viruses. In some cases, your immune system will defend against substances that typically don’t pose a threat to the human body.

These substances are known as allergens, and when your body reacts to them, it causes an allergic reaction.

What are the allergies

You can inhale, eat, and touch allergens that cause a reaction. Doctors can also use allergens to diagnose allergies and can even inject them into your body as a form of treatment.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reports that as numerous as 50 million people in the United States suffer from some type of allergic disease.


What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary from mild to severe.

If you become exposed to an allergen for the first time, your symptoms may be mild. These symptoms may get worse if you repeatedly come into contact with the allergen.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  1. hives (itchy red spots on the skin)
  2. itching
  3. nasal congestion (known as rhinitis)
  4. scratchy throat
  5. rash
  6. watery or itchy eyes

Severe allergic reactions can cause the following symptoms:

  1. pain or tightness in the chest
  2. abdominal cramping or pain
  3. fear or anxiety
  4. weakness
  5. swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  6. difficulty breathing
  7. diarrhea
  8. nausea or vomiting
  9. heart palpitations
  10. wheezing
  11. dizziness (vertigo)
  12. flushing of the face
  13. difficulty swallowing
  14. unconsciousness

A severe and sudden allergic reaction can develop within seconds after exposure to an allergen.

What are the allergies

This type of reaction is known as anaphylaxis and results in life-threatening symptoms, including swelling of the airway, inability to breathe, and a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure.

If you experience this type of allergic reaction, seek immediate emergency assist. Without treatment, this condition can result in death within 15 minutes.


What causes an allergic reaction?

Doctors don’t know why some people experience allergies. Allergies appear to run in families and can be inherited. If you own a shut family member who has allergies, you’re at greater risk for developing allergies.

Although the reasons why allergies develop aren’t known, there are some substances that commonly cause an allergic reaction.

People who own allergies are typically allergic to one or more of the following:


How is an allergic reaction diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose allergic reactions. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, your doctor will act out an exam and enquire you about your health history. If your allergic reactions are severe, your doctor may enquire you to hold a journal that details your symptoms and the substances that appear to cause them.

Your doctor may desire to order tests to determine what’s causing your allergy. The most commonly ordered types of allergy tests are:

  1. skin tests
  2. challenge (elimination-type) tests
  3. blood tests

A skin test involves applying a little quantity of a suspected allergen to the skin and watching for a reaction.

The substance may be taped to the skin (patch test), applied via a little prick to the skin (skin prick test), or injected just under the skin (intradermal test).

A skin test is most valuable for diagnosing:

Challenge testing is useful in diagnosing food allergies. It involves removing a food from your diet for several weeks and watching for symptoms when you eat the food again.

A blood test for an allergy checks your blood for antibodies against a possible allergen. An antibody is a protein your body produces to fight harmful substances. Blood tests are an option when skin testing isn’t helpful or possible.


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