woman suffering from allergy reactionAllergies are a very common condition that affects at least 2 out of 10 Americans. They can cause everything from annoying symptoms to a life-threatening reaction, so it’s important to learn about your allergy triggers.

In this blog, the doctors at DFW Sinus Select will explain more about allergies and their common triggers.

What are allergies?

Allergies occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to a substance (known as an allergen) that’s usually harmless. After you eat, inhale, or otherwise come into contact with the allergen, your body makes a protein in an effort to combat it. Histamines and other chemicals are released into the blood, and this causes allergic symptoms.

What are the symptoms of allergies?

The symptoms you experience may depend on how you’re exposed to the allergen. For example, food allergies can cause symptoms such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Allergy symptoms can also include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • A rash or hives
  • A tired feeling

A severe allergic reaction can also cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This occurs when you have swelling in your mouth or throat that makes it difficult for you to breathe, and it’s a medical emergency that requires the use of an auto-injector pen with epinephrine (if you have it) and immediate medical attention.

What are the top hidden allergy triggers?

Plants

From trees to grasses to weeds, plants are common allergy triggers. And it’s not just ones you have in your yard – or even in your neighbor’s – that can cause a problem. Pollen can travel for miles.

Molds

Mold spores are a common allergen that can be found indoors and outdoors. As many as a quarter-million spores can fit on a pin head, and mold levels usually peak in late summer and fall.

Pets

Pet fur isn’t the only possible allergen associated with your furry friends. Their saliva, dander (tiny flecks of dead skin), and urine can also be allergy triggers. This can occur even when you’re not directly exposed to the animal, since pet allergens can be carried on the clothes of the animal’s owner.

Dust mites

Dust mites can thrive in mattresses, pillows, and carpeting, and these tiny pests leave behind droppings that are common allergens.

Insect stings

Insect bites and stings can cause swelling, redness, and dizziness, as well as making you sick to your stomach.

Food

Food allergies can cause hives, asthma, eczema, and stomach-related issues. The most common food allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, and tree nuts. If you feel flushing and tingling in your mouth, as well as an itchy rash, you may be having a severe reaction.

Medication

Medications can cause hives and swelling in your face, mouth, and throat if you’re allergic to them. Common allergens in this category include penicillin and aspirin.

Pollutants

Tobacco and wood smoke, perfumes, household cleaners and other strong odors can cause an allergic reaction.

What are the treatment options for allergies?

Medications won’t cure your allergies, but they can help make your symptoms more tolerable. These include:

  • Antihistamines: work by blocking histamine, which causes symptoms like swelling and itching.
  • Decongestants: are often prescribed in conjunction with antihistamines to help relieve nasal swelling, congestion, and related symptoms.
  • Combination drugs: combine an antihistamine and decongestant in one medicine.
  • Corticosteroids: can reduce inflammation to help relieve nasal stuffiness and sneezing.
  • Immunotherapy: If medications aren’t effective enough or cause unwanted side effects, you may want to consider immunotherapy. This is especially true if you suffer from allergies for more than three months of the year.

Where can I find the best treatment options for allergies?

The board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctors at DFW Sinus Select are experienced in treating disorders related to the nose and sinuses, including allergies. Doctors can conduct testing to determine if you have an allergy, and if so, exactly what you’re allergic to. They’ll then recommend the most effective treatments to help you get relief from annoying symptoms and avoid a dangerous anaphylactic reaction.

To learn if you have allergies and if so, what your allergy triggers are, make an appointment today with DFW Sinus Select.