What Are Allergies and How Do You Treat Them?

Updated
Updated

What Are Allergies?

Allergies occur when the body raises its defenses against a harmless outside substance by producing a chemical called histamine. Histamine triggers physical symptoms that can affect your eyes, nose, throat, skin, lungs, and even your stomach.

The combination and intensity of allergy symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can range from mild irritations like sneezing or itching to severe asthma or anaphylaxis, a medical emergency caused by a serious allergic reaction.

Why Do Some People Have Allergies While Others Do Not?

Some people think there is a reason your body acts the way it does to allergens, but most allergens are rather harmless. Even so, for those with allergies, the body’s immune system sees the substance as a threat and ignites an immune response to get it out of the body. It’s that response that results in allergy symptoms.

Two different people can be exposed to the same substance (pollen, for example) and have completely different immune responses. The first person may not have any symptoms, while the second could experience severe symptoms that interfere with daily functioning.

What Are the Common Allergens?

There aren’t any clear rules about what’s considered an allergen and what isn’t. But there are common allergens that many people react to. Some of the most common environmental allergens include:

How to Reduce My Symptoms

It’s a good idea to avoid exposing yourself to allergens when you can. Some allergens, like dust and mold, can be found everywhere and are hard to avoid. In many cases, people may need to get an allergy test to identify the specific allergens that cause their reactions. Without this testing, it can be difficult to know what is triggering your allergic response. At Wyndly, we offer easy, at-home allergy tests that require only one finger prick.

Outdoor allergens

Outdoor allergens mostly consist of pollen. Because these particles are so small, they get picked up and carried in the air. Therefore, every time you breathe outside air, your respiratory system is exposed. The most common outdoor allergens are mold spores and pollen released by weeds, trees, and grass. You can work to limit your exposure to outdoor allergens by paying attention to local pollen counts and planning outdoor activities accordingly.

The concentration of these invisible particles fluctuates, but they often spike during spring and fall. They tend to linger throughout the warmer months and in warm climates with mild winters.

Indoor allergens

While you may get some relief from outdoor allergies in the cold winter months, that’s not true for indoor allergies. The inside of a house, apartment, or office can be a hub for indoor allergens, especially if your ventilation systems recycle unfiltered air.

The most common indoor allergens include dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pests like rodents and cockroaches.

How Bad Are Allergy Symptoms?

Allergy symptoms can range from mildly irritating to life-threatening, depending on the person and the allergy. Food allergies can be life-threatening, but pollen allergies generally aren’t. But even non-lethal allergies can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life.

How Many People Have Allergies?

Allergies are very common. Over 60 million Americans have allergies of some kind. It’s estimated that 30% of allergy sufferers have hay fever, a seasonal allergy that includes upper respiratory symptoms. These allergy symptoms result from exposure to grass, trees, weeds, ragweed, pollen, and mold that are present in the spring and summer months.

Treatment and Remedies

Luckily, allergy sufferers have a variety of options. There are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription medications that reduce symptoms and counteract the body’s immune response.

Most allergy sufferers start with over-the-counter, non-prescription medications like antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal sprays. Although these medications can reduce symptoms, they only offer short-term relief and must be taken daily. If over-the-counter medicines don’t reduce your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications and refer you to an allergist, ENT, or other allergy specialist. This specialist can pinpoint which allergens cause your symptoms and help you find the right relief.

If allergy medications aren’t working for you, immunotherapy might be the best way for you to beat your allergies. This is the only long-term solution to reducing your immune response to allergens over time. Clinically proven to provide long-lasting allergy relief, immunotherapy desensitizes your immune system so that its reaction lessens, allowing you to live a life free from allergies.

Get Lifelong Relief With Wyndly

If you’re looking for an easy solution for your environmental allergies, we can help! At Wyndly, our allergy doctors offer virtual consultations, at-home allergy test kits, and subscription immunotherapy delivered to your front door. Schedule your consultation today and we’ll send you a free allergy test to get started! There’s no reason to wait. Book now!

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