4 Common Allergies and How to Deal With Them
When you have an allergy, your body’s immune system overreacts and treats a usually harmless substance as a dangerous intruder. The reactions you experience are the result of your body trying to expel or deal with the said substance, which is called an allergen.
Unfortunately, allergies are quite common. What’s worse is that some people have allergies that cause them to have severe reactions that are sometimes life-threatening. There are also those who don’t know that they have allergies until they experience an attack.
That’s why it’s important to know about the most common allergies, as well as how to avoid triggering them and how to deal with them should they occur. Below are just a few examples.
Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the lungs get inflamed, resulting in the narrowing of the airways. This results in difficulty in breathing. Asthma also often causes the lungs to produce more mucus, which can trigger wheezing and coughing.
In many cases, asthma is a direct result of allergic reactions, thus the name allergic asthma. Some of the most common triggers include smoke, pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander. Some patients with extreme conditions may also experience an allergic asthma attack after smelling strong fragrances.
To avoid triggering allergic asthma, it’s best to be conscious of the environment and avoid your known allergens as much as possible. You should also always bring your medications with you, in case you unexpectedly encounter and inhale allergens.
There are several types of rhinitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the nasal lining. The most common is acute rhinitis, which is caused by viruses that affect the nasal passages. Another common type of rhinitis is allergic rhinitis, which is caused by the same allergens that trigger allergic asthma. However, instead of being concentrated on the lungs, the effects of allergic rhinitis are focused on the nose, sinuses, and eyelids.
The best thing to do to avoid triggering allergic rhinitis is to avoid your allergens. There are also plenty of over-the-counter antihistamines that you can easily purchase to treat symptoms. It’s best to have these medications readily available at home, particularly if you have extreme sensitivity. You should also pack some antihistamines in your emergency go-bag.
There are plenty of foods that can cause allergies, but the most common are
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios)
- Milk and other dairy products
- Certain fish, like salmon and tuna
- Most crustacean shellfish, like lobsters, shrimps, and crabs
Some food allergies start during childhood and are often outgrown, like in the case of egg allergy. However, most food allergies are moderate to severe. There are also some patients who are extremely sensitive, that even the smallest amount of specific food can trigger an attack. In some instances, a food allergy may end up in anaphylactic shock.
If you have a food allergy, it may be best to prepare your own food to avoid triggering an attack. In case you want to eat out, plan ahead and research the establishment. Checking labels is also a good habit since there could be traces of your allergen in packaged food.
For cases at risk of anaphylaxis, make sure to always bring your epinephrine injector pen with you. You should also stock extras; take note of the expiration dates so you can always count on the medications to work safely and effectively.
Also called eczema, atopic dermatitis is a skin allergy that causes itchiness and inflammation. It often manifests as patches of dry pink or red skin rashes, often on the face and neck, as well as the back of the knees. Other areas that get frequent friction may also be affected. For example, babies who are learning to crawl may experience eczema rashes on their knees.
Most people who have allergic rhinitis or asthma may also have atopic dermatitis. The condition also commonly starts during infancy, with some patients growing out of it once they reach young adulthood. That said, there are also cases of chronic atopic dermatitis but with long periods in between flare-ups.
The main treatment options for atopic dermatitis are a variety of corticosteroid creams. Using gentle moisturizers may also soothe the redness and itching caused by minor flare-ups. If the skin gets wounded and infected (i.e., due to frequent scratching), topical or oral antibiotics may be prescribed. To prevent flare-ups, on the other hand, it’s best to keep the skin moisturized and avoid scented skin products. It’s also best to not let sweat dry on the skin.
Other common allergies include insect sting allergies, such as those from bees and wasps. These are often severe in nature, so it’s best to avoid places where such insects may be present. Patients should also bring their epinephrine injector with them at all times to deal with unexpected allergy attacks.
It can be challenging to live with allergies. However, if you’re well-equipped with the right information, you can make things more manageable. Keep these allergy details in mind and stay safe!