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Types and Causes of Allergies: Part 2

An allergic reaction happens when the body identifies a substance (known as an allergen) as harmful to the body, even though it isn’t. This overreaction of the immune system results in various signs and symptoms of allergy as the body tries to fight it off.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has identified seven main types of allergies. In Part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the first four types (drug, food, insect, and latex) together with their signs and symptoms.

In Part 2, we tackle the remaining three, which are all present in our environment.

5. Mold allergy

Molds are present in many areas of the house and even in the environment. You can get exposed almost anywhere. There are approximately 1000 mold species in the United States, which can be airborne and cause an allergic reaction to people with a mold allergy. Therefore, if you have an allergy that lasts for several seasons, you might be allergic to the spores of molds.

If you have a mold allergy, exposure may lead to the following signs and symptoms:

  • Runny and congested nose
  • Sneezing, wheezing
  • Eye irritation
  • Coughing and itchy throat

Doing a regular house clean-up, especially in the basement, bathroom, cabinets, and laundry area can guard you against mold. Lowering your indoor humidity to below 35% is the best way to prevent mold growth, as molds and fungi thrive in places with more than 50% humidity.

6. Pet allergy

Pet allergy refers to allergy to pets with fur. It usually affects people who have asthma and other allergies. Pet allergy is incredibly prevalent! In fact, 30% of Americans with allergies also have allergic reactions to the dander of cats and dogs.

Contrary to popular belief, your pet’s hair is not an allergen. It collects urine, saliva, dander, and even dust and pollens, which cause the allergic reaction. These allergens can become suspended in the air when the animal is petted.

If you have a pet allergy, you might experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling, itching, and inflammation of the area around the eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Skin redness when the animal licks or scratches your skin
  • Breathing problems when the allergen gets into the lungs
  • Severe rash on the face, neck, and chest (in highly sensitive people)

7. Pollen allergy

Pollen is a common cause of seasonal allergies—usually every spring, summer, and fall. During these seasons, plants release pollens to facilitate the fertilization of other plants. These pollens travel by the wind and may cause signs and symptoms to people with pollen allergies, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Itchy eyes, nose, ears, and mouth
  • Red, watery, and swollen eyes

Pollens from grasses are the most common cause of pollen allergy. Other sources of pollen include ragweed, pigweed, sagebrush, tumbleweed, and lamb’s quarters. Pollens from trees like birch, oak, and cedar are also highly allergenic.

What to do

Aside from avoiding exposure to allergens, you may take antihistamine and decongestant medications, which help relieve signs and symptoms. If you haven’t been diagnosed with allergies, but you are suspecting that you have one, it is best to consult your Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic doctor for a more specific course of treatment.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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Types and Causes of Allergies: Part 1

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), there are seven main types of allergies. Some of these allergies are seasonal while others are perennial. This blog series is divided into two parts. In Part 1, we discuss the first four types and causes of allergies:

  1. Drug allergy

In general, drug allergies are uncommon and only affect 10% of people worldwide. People who have an allergy to a particular drug may manifest signs and symptoms regardless if the medicine is taken orally or injected. However, not all reactions to drugs can be considered allergic.

Some physiologic reactions are already known side effects caused by specific medicinal properties of the drug. For this reason, the diagnosis of drug allergies can be tricky. In some cases, you need to undergo skin testing procedures to confirm the allergy.

Common symptoms of drug allergies include itching, breathing problems, skin rashes, and swelling. An anaphylactic reaction may also occur.

If you suspect you may be allergic to any drug you are currently taking, do not hesitate and contact our Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic today.

2. Food allergy

In the United States alone, 32 million people have food allergies. Currently, there are 170 food allergens reported. Among them are these eight major foods that cause allergic reactions: egg, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish.

Food allergy may affect several organs such as the skin, eyes, mouth, lungs, and heart. The signs and symptoms may vary, depending on the food ingested:

  • Itching, rashes, hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat—affecting the ability to talk
  • Difficulty swallowing, wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent coughing
  • Stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Weak pulse, dizziness, pale or bluish skin
  • Anaphylactic reaction

3. Insect allergy

The incidence of insect allergies is lesser than food allergies, as the former only affects 5% of the population. Every year, anaphylactic reactions to insect stings account for 90-100 deaths in the United States. There are three major classifications of insects that cause allergies: stinging insects, biting insects, and household pests.

    • Stinging insects refers to bees, wasps, fire ants, yellow-jackets, and hornets. Insect stings inject a harmful substance called venom into the skin. Many people can recover on their own after being stung, although the recovery period may last several hours or days. However, others might develop a severe anaphylactic reaction to the venom that requires immediate emergency care.

 

  • Biting insects are bedbugs, fleas, flies, kissing bugs, and mosquitoes. Unlike stinging insects, biting insects rarely cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. A bitten person usually suffers redness, pain, itching, and swelling around the bitten area.
  • Household pests like cockroaches and dust mites may also trigger an allergic reaction. These two insects are the most common cause of perennial asthma and allergies.

 

4. Latex allergy

Only 1% of Americans have latex allergies. Latex refers to rubber products that contain latex as a significant component. Latex is the protein found in the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree. Rubber bands, bandages, gloves, balloons, condoms, and rubber balls are products known to contain latex.

Products made of synthetic latex, such as latex paint, are not from a Brazilian rubber tree. Therefore, they do not cause a latex allergy.

Some people with latex allergy develop an allergic reaction upon skin contact with latex-containing products, while others are triggered by breathing fibers of latex in the air.

Signs and symptoms of latex allergy include itching, redness, and swelling of the body part that came in contact with a latex-containing product. More specifically:

  • Itching and swelling of the lips after blowing up a balloon
  • Itching, redness, and swelling of the skin after contact with a bandage
  • Itching, swelling, and redness of the skin after contact with latex gloves
  • Itching and swelling after using a condom

People with a severe reaction to latex may develop life-threatening signs and symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction. Experiencing any of the following warrants an emergency medical treatment:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Severe swelling
  • Hives
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing

The remaining three types and causes of allergy are more common and widespread, as they are all around uslike in the hair of your fur babies, for example. To learn more, click here.

What to do? Visit a Walk-In Clinic in Spring Hill

If you are suffering from allergy-like symptoms, but aren’t sure of what’s causing them, visit your Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic doctor for an accurate assessment, treatment, and diagnosis. Our doors are open to everyone, no appointment needed. For inquiries and assistance, give us a call at (352) 515-6000.

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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Can Allergies Be Fatal?

The word “allergy” gets thrown around a lot, which isn’t surprising at all considering the high percentage of people who suffer from allergies every year.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), over 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergic diseases yearly. If you suffer from any form of allergy, you can visit Lifeguard Urgent Care Center’s Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic for a quick medical assessment, preventive medicine, and treatment.

Why do allergies occur?

The body’s immune system is programmed to protect the body against foreign invaders that have the potential to cause harm. To do this, the immune system creates antibodies that fight off specific germs.

In the case of people with allergies, the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance (known as an allergen), branding it as harmful when it isn’t. An allergen is a substance that is safe and harmless, but triggers an allergic reaction to people sensitive to it.

Common examples of allergens include dust, pollen, food (seafood, dairy products, crustaceans, etc.), mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex, and certain drugs (penicillin, aspirin, and ibuprofen are among the most common).

Who is at risk?

You have higher chances of having an allergy if you:

  • Have a family history of allergies
  • Have asthma
  • Are a child

Complications with allergies

Having an allergy may result in the following complications:

    • Asthma. People with allergies have higher chances of having asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease that involves the airways. Allergic asthma will cause the airway to swell, narrow, and produce mucus. This will make it hard for air to pass through the airway, leading to difficulty with breathing, alongside wheezing, and coughing.
    • Sinusitis is the swelling and inflammation of the tissues that line the sinuses.
    • Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening form of an allergic reaction. Typically, people with allergies develop localized signs and symptoms, which can be bothersome, but are generally non-fatal. If the signs and symptoms affect more than one organ system, the condition is known as anaphylaxis.

The danger of anaphylaxis

If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to an anaphylactic shock. This is a fatal condition characterized by nausea and vomiting, rapid and weak pulse, rashes, narrowed airways, and a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is an emergency situation that needs immediate medical treatment.

Some people have a higher risk of developing anaphylactic reactions than others. If you have asthma, allergies, or a history of anaphylaxis in the family, you are at a higher risk. Likewise, if you have experienced an anaphylactic reaction in the past, your chance of experiencing another one is increased.

It is best to seek immediate help from a qualified medical professional at Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic for an accurate diagnosis and intervention. The first course of treatment, especially for someone suffering from an anaphylactic shock, is the injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) to reduce the body’s allergic response immediately.

Living with allergies

In general, the best way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid contact with allergens. However, some allergens, such as animal dander and pollens, cannot be entirely avoided. In these cases, you might have to resort to medications.

Addressing your allergy symptoms and finding relief can be achieved through antihistamines and decongestants. These are the most common drugs that can relieve most symptoms of an allergic reaction such as itching, runny nose, and sneezing.

Before taking any medication, consult your Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic doctor to determine which medicine suits your condition best. Taking the proper medication with the right dosage and frequency will help relieve your symptoms, while minimizing side effects.

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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