What causes allergies?
Allergies are the result of an overreaction in the immune system when a person is exposed to certain substances. During an allergic reaction, the body mistakes common, harmless things for germs and attacks them. This causes sneezing, coughing, and watering eyes. Common allergies include:
- Cat or dog hair
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy skin
- Nasal congestion
- Trouble breathing
Who is at risk?
Allergies can develop later in life or can gradually fade over time. Cases vary from person to person. However, there are certain risk factors that are associated with allergies, including:
- Genetics– Having a parent with allergies increases the chance that allergies will be developed at some point
- Environmental– Living in a region that is highly industrialized can increase the potential for a person to develop allergies
How are allergies diagnosed?
Allergies can be diagnosed at New York ENT by doctors who are experienced in testing for allergies. Allergy tests can include skin or blood tests, depending on the allergy type and the individual. In some cases, a diary or other methods may be needed to determine the allergy.
How to treat allergies
Once an allergy is diagnosed, patients can be treated in multiple ways, depending on the severity of the allergy. Our advanced New York ENT allergy treatment may include:
- Eye drops
- Nasal sprays
- Allergy shots
- Prescription medication
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic reactions are to foods, insect stings, medications and latex. If you are allergic to a substance, your immune system overreacts to this allergen by releasing chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. Typically, these bothersome symptoms occur in one location of the body. However, some people are susceptible to a much more serious anaphylactic reaction. This reaction typically affects more than one part of the body at the same time.
What Are Allergy Medicines Called?
If you have allergies, your body has created antibodies to one or more substances. Pollen and pet dander are two common examples. Because your body has antibodies against the substance, it will engage in a chain-reaction response upon contact. If you are allergic to pollen and come into contact with the substance, your body will produce histamines and other chemicals to protect itself. To mitigate the effects of allergies, then, the primary medication that you would take would be an anti-histamine. An anti-histamine medication blocks the H1 receptors in your body from receiving the histamine, thereby reducing your allergy symptoms.
Many of the medications that are used to treat allergies work on the symptoms themselves. Other therapies, such as allergy shots, work on the immune system to build tolerance for the allergen. Allergy shots are a form of immunotherapy that requires multiple sessions over time to increase the threshold for exposure tolerance.
What is Pollen?
Pollination is the process through which some plants reproduce and create new generations of plants. Pollen is the grains that contain the genetic code that is necessary for plant reproduction. Pollen, a powdery substance, is found in many trees, grasses, and weeds. Pollen grains can be carried in the wind, where they can reach the nasal passages and, for an allergic person, cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Pollen allergies are the most common. We often refer to them as Hay Fever.
What Is Pet Dander?
Just like people shed dead skin cells, so do some pets. Cats and dogs are the primary sources of pet dander allergies in America. The shed skin cells are problematic not in themselves but because they carry microscopic proteins to which some people are allergic. In addition to being allergic to pet dander, it is also possible to have antibodies built up against proteins found in a pet's urine or saliva.
On Average, How Many Americans Suffer from Allergies?
Allergies represent one of the leading causes of chronic illness in America. It is estimated that more than 50 million people in our country, including children and adults of all ages, have some type of allergy. These are not limited to seasonal allergies, but also include food allergies, drug allergies, and general allergies.
Schedule Your Allergy Consultation Today!
If you are suffering from allergies, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor. David O. Volpi, MD of New York ENT has extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of nasal conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at 212-873-6036 to schedule an appointment today.