Allergy Symptoms and Prevention
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen that causes it. Allergens such as house dust mites or fungal spores can be hard to spot and can breed in even the cleanest house. It can be hard to avoid pets, and many food allergies are triggered because people do not realize they are eating food they are allergic to.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary, depending on which substance (allergen) we are allergic to. If we are allergic to substances in the air such as pollen, animal dander and dust mites, the symptoms usually include sneezing and a blocked, itchy or runny nose; itchy, red, streaming eyes; or wheezing, breathlessness and a cough.
If we are allergic to a certain food or medication, symptoms can include hives; swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes and face; abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea; and dry, red and cracked skin. We can also be allergic to direct contacts with the skin, such as perfumes, soaps, hair dyes and metal jewelry. This causes a type of eczema known as contact dermatitis.
It is important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so see a doctor for advice if unsure what’s causing symptoms. The symptoms of an allergic reaction usually do not occur the first time we come into contact with an allergen, but later, because the body’s immune system has to develop a sensitivity, which varies from days to years to manifest.
Respiratory allergies include seasonal and pet-related allergies, and cause mild symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and wheezing. Sometimes, these allergies can also cause a rash and itchy skin. Buy a large and quiet high-efficiency (HEPA) air cleaner for the bedroom to help remove airborne allergens and use an air conditioner during warm seasons to keep pollen out and reduce indoor humidity, which encourages the growth of molds, mites and roaches.
Treatment for mild respiratory allergies includes over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids and injected corticosteroids or extra-strength allergy pills, which would be administered by a physician. Antihistamines can be taken as pills, liquid, nasal spray or eye drops, depending on where respiratory allergy symptoms present themselves.
Allergic reactions to food can present some of the same initial symptoms as respiratory allergies, but can quickly progress to much more serious side effects, including life-threatening anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include itching in the mouth, swelling of the lips, hives or rash, gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhea and/or tightening of the throat and trouble breathing. Have an allergist run a test to determine food allergies and their severity and check food labels and ingredients, including checking for hidden triggers, or additives that are known allergens.
Mild food allergic reactions can include rash, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. If we experience severe itching of the eyes or face that progresses to more serious symptoms or a rash on other parts of the body, it requires immediate medical attention. A physician can prescribe a portable dose of epinephrine, a hormone which can reduce the initial response to an allergen.
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