Achooo! Millions of Americans suffer from allergic symptoms. Some may suffer from seasonal allergies caused by pollens and mold spores, and others suffer from year-round allergies caused by indoor allergens. Controlling allergies when having an underlying lung disease can be challenging. An allergy is an abnormal reaction or increased sensitivity to certain substances or “allergens.” Allergens can be common everyday things like grasses, trees, pollen, dust, and animals. When having an allergic reaction the immune system responds through a series of steps.
The Body’s Response to Allergens
- Your immune system is exposed to allergens.
- Immune system produces antibodies
- Antibodies attach themselves to certain cells in your body.
- These cells are found in your respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, in your skin, and also in your blood.
- The cells release potent chemicals such as histamine which causes most of the symptoms of an allergy.
Ways to Prevent Allergies
- Have a checkup before the season gets underway.
- Make sure you have the proper medications and know how to use it properly. Take all your medications as prescribed.
- If you are allergic to outdoor allergens, try to stay indoors as much as possible.
- Remove as much carpet from your house as possible. Indoor allergens tend to linger in soft fabrics.
- Dust often, but not with a feather duster. Use a vacuum cleaner with high allergen containment.
- Change your sheets and towels at least once a week.
- Keep the area under your bed clean.
It is important to know the severity of your allergies and what causes you to have an allergic reaction. Many people confuse allergy symptoms with the common cold because the conditions may mimic each other. Because these symptoms are easy to confuse, it is important to involve a medical provider when any of these symptoms linger.
Indicators of a Cold
- Stuffy nose
- Sore scratchy throat
- Sometimes a fever
Indicators of Allergies
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy throat
A severe allergy attack is called anaphylaxis. (Anaphylaxis is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the body’s response to the allergen is sudden and affects the whole body). It may begin with sudden itching of the eyes or face and within minute’s progress to more serious symptoms, including:
- Swelling that can make breathing and swallowing difficult
- Abdominal pain
- Mental confusion
If these symptoms are present seek medical attention immediately.