Allergies occur when the body’s immune system sees a substance as harmful and then overreacts to it. The symptoms that occur after that are known as an allergic reaction, and the substances that cause the reaction are known as allergens. Allergens can get into your body in many different ways to cause an allergic reaction and your body may show many different types of symptoms.
Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to very intense. Some symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- Itchy and Watery Eyes
- Itchy nose
- Runny Nose
- Stomach Cramps
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Swollen Tongue
- Throat Closing
- Tightness of Breath
- Feeling Faint
A more intense allergic reaction is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical care. It usually happens fast and may possibly cause death. Symptoms of anaphylaxis usually involve more than one part of the body, such as the skin, mouth, lungs, the heart and the gut.
Different triggers will cause different types of symptoms. For example, hay fever usually consists of sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, a runny and stuffy nose, and water, red, or swollen eyes, while a food allergy can cause mouth tingling, swollen lips, tongue, face, or throat, hives, and anaphylaxis.
When To See Your Doctor
If you are experiencing one or more of any of these minor symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible, and if any of your symptoms are life-threatening, as they can be, make sure to seek immediate medical care and learn about allergy treatments from your doctor.
While there is no real cure for allergies, there are several types of treatments that can make your life easier when it comes to managing your allergies. Allergy treatments will vary depending on the severity and type of allergy that you have.
Possibly the most commonly used remedy for allergy-related symptoms are nasal sprays. There are several types of sprays available, including over the counter and prescription sprays. These include:
- Steroid Sprays - These work by reducing inflammation and mucus in the nasal passageways, and work best for people with allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, and can provide relief from nasal stuffiness or congestion.
- Antihistamine Sprays -These sprays work by blocking the effects of histamine, which is a chemical released by your immune system during an allergy attack.
- Decongestant Sprays - Decongestants can help reduce nasal congestion, but aren’t recommended for treating chronic allergies.
- Saline Nasal Sprays - Saline sprays are saltwater solutions used to soften mucus to help it drain more easily.
Besides nasal sprays, there are other medications that can help to reduce your body’s reaction to allergens. These can be taken as liquids or pills. They include:
- Mast Cell Stabilizers
- Leukotriene Modifiers
Immunotherapy is a form of treatment to prevent allergic reactions by building up your immune system’s resistance. This is done through controlled exposure to substances that you may be allergic to.
- Allergy Shots - With allergy shots, your doctor will inject small amounts of allergen extracts into the body to stimulate the immune system without causing an allergic reaction. Over time, your doctor will slowly increase the allergen. Shots work similarly to a vaccine, making your body develop immunity and tolerance to specific allergens. They are typically given over the course of three to five years.
- Allergy Drops - This is also known as sublingual immunotherapy. A small dose of an allergen is delivered in liquid or tablet form under the tongue to boost tolerance and immunity. This form of therapy is usually taken at home and usually is daily.
For more information about treatment for allergies, contact Family Practice Associates at (303) 673-9090.