What Is an Allergy and How Is It Treated?
August 05, 2022
Submitted by Peoria ENT
Allergy causes are all around us. They can include airborne allergens (such as mold, pollen, animal dander, or dust mites), foods (particularly peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, or milk), insect stings, medications, or latex or other substances. When you have allergies, your immune system reacts by producing antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with that allergen, your system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways, or digestive system. More than 50 million Americans (1 in 6) experience some type of allergy.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, including sneezing, itchy eyes, nose, or throat, runny or stuffy nose, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, or a rash. In the most extreme cases, it can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Those with a family history of asthma or allergies, who have asthma or another allergic condition themselves, or children may be more likely to develop an allergy.
The first step in treating an allergy is an accurate diagnosis by an immunologist or allergist, usually involving either skin pricks and/or blood tests. This determines whether symptoms are caused by an allergy and if so, what triggers the allergy as accurately as possible. The diagnosis will target the appropriate treatment or clinical intervention to allow avoidance of the trigger.
Treatments can include control of symptoms (such as antihistamine creams or pills, steroid creams, inhalers, or auto-injectors), avoiding the allergens (mainly used for allergies caused by food, drugs, venom, latex, or pet dander), rescue medications for acute tongue swelling or anaphylaxis, or immunotherapy (allergy shots containing just enough of a specific allergen to stimulate your immune system but not enough to cause a full reaction). Over time, your body builds up a tolerance to the allergen. When avoiding allergens, it’s important to know that there may be interactions resulting from cross-reactions between latex and fruits/vegetables or tree pollen and fresh fruits (to name a few).
Anyone with allergies or asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night. You don’t have to accept less. Our Board-Certified Allergist, Dr. Julie Klemens, M.D., and her highly skilled team can help you find relief so you can get back to enjoying life.
For more information, please visit our website at peoriaent.com or call (309) 589-5900.
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