THE CHANGE OF weather patterns and the start of flowers blooming can cause havoc on many people who suffer allergies. These allergies can be caused by hay, pollen or contaminants in the air. Allergy sufferers dread this season because of the consistent symptoms that happen year after year. The typical watery and itchy eyes to the constant sniffle and sneezing. To deal with allergies and these symptoms, it is recommended is to maintain that healthy diet by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Exposing our bodies to more natural foods can help combat allergies because our body will be better equipped to naturally detect and fend off these allergens. While allergies are unpleasant and annoying, they are not normally life threatening, unless there is a severe reaction called anaphylactic shock. Fighting allergies If there is one rule for coping with all types of allergies, it is “If something irritates you, avoid it.” That is often easier said than done, but avoiding allergens avoids allergic reaction and all the accompanying symptoms. Of course, before you can avoid something, you must find out what are you allergic to. There is a range of tests, from skin to blood tests, that your doctor can perform in order to help you find out what triggers your allergy symptoms. It can be very difficult to know exactly what you are allergic to, so it is often necessary to do a bit of detective work yourself. If you suspect that you are allergic to some food, start writing in fine details exactly what you are eating, and eliminating one by one potential allergens. Once you know that you are allergic to peanuts, for example, it is a matter of avoiding anything that contains peanuts, and your problems are solved. Allergens and treatments The most difficult allergies to treat are the ones that are difficult to avoid, and they are the most common as well. Allergies to pollen, dust mites, mold spores, animal dander and insect stings often require some drastic measures, such as changes in geographic location, home, furniture, even giving up loved pet. There are several types of medications available, and their job is to help with the symptoms. Some of them are available over-the-counter and other by prescription. They can be antihistamines, steroids, decongestants and combinations. Be careful with antihistamines, some of them will make you drowsy and can make work and driving impossible. Decongestants may raise your blood pressure, so if you have glaucoma or high blood pressure, stay away from decongestants. Allergy shots gradually decrease sensitivity to allergens, and are the only long-term solution, but the treatment takes a long time and requires persistence. They are the best solution for people with severe allergies. Common sense solutions Many people are allergic to their own homes, mostly due to the presence of dust mites, mold spores and pet dander. Regular cleaning is the first rule for them. There are very effective mattress and pillow covers that prevent contact with dust mites and avoid allergic reaction. Lower humidity at home also helps getting rid of dust mites. Get a dehumidifier and change the filter regularly. Get rid of carpets and curtains or clean them regularly. Try using non-toxic cleaners, because some cleaners make problems worse. Allergies to insects can be avoided by wearing long sleeves and pants and wearing insect repellents. Bee allergy is one of the most common causes of very serious and potentially deadly anaphylactic shock. People allergic to pollen should consult online pollen information databases and avoid their morning jog on the worst days. This type of allergy is often linked to plant pollen and some people are forced to relocate to areas without that trigger.
Bee Stings. What to do if you or a family member has been stung by a bee. Bee stings can be very serious and even deadly for those that are allergic. But how do you know if you’re allergic? Allergy skin tests and allergy blood tests are often used together to diagnose insect allergies. Your doctor may also want to test you for allergies to yellow jackets, hornets and wasps — which can cause allergic reactions similar to those of bee stings. If you've had a reaction to bee stings that suggests you might be allergic to bee venom, your doctor may suggest one or both of the following tests:
- Skin test. During skin testing, a small amount of allergen extract (in this case, bee venom) is injected into the skin of your arm or upper back. This test is safe and won't cause any serious reactions. If you're allergic to bee stings, you'll develop a raised bump on your skin at the test site.
- Allergy blood test. A blood test can measure your immune system's response to bee venom by measuring the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream. A blood sample is sent to a medical laboratory, where it can be tested for evidence of sensitivity to possible allergens.
- Remove the stinger as soon as you can, as it takes only seconds for all of the venom to enter your body. Get the stinger out any way you can, such as with your fingernails or a tweezer.
- Wash the sting area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. You might try ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Children's Motrin, others) to help ease discomfort.
- If the sting is on an arm or leg, elevate it.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling.
- If itching or swelling is bothersome, take an oral antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
- Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.
Kids Health: Seasonal Allergies - Your kids are having sneezing fits, and cold-like systems —sneezing, congestion, and runny nose. Think it’s just a spring cold? It could actually be seasonal allergies. Colds and seasonal allergies have similar symptoms but generally happen at the same time every year. Often called "hay fever", otherwise known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, are allergy symptoms that happen during certain times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. An immune system of one that is allergic to mold spores or pollen treat these particles (called allergens) are treated by the body as invaders, and your body feels the need to defend against them. It's the release of these invaders that causes allergy symptoms. Kids can be allergic to one or more types of pollen or mold. The type someone is allergic to determines when symptoms happen. For example, in some states tree pollination is February through May, grass pollen runs from May through June, and weed pollen is from August through October. That said, some kids with these allergies are likely to have increased symptoms at those times. Even kids who have never had seasonal allergies in years past can develop them. Seasonal allergies can start at almost any age, though they usually develop by the time a child is 10 years old and reach their peak in the early twenties, with symptoms often disappearing later in adulthood. Signs and Symptoms If your child develops a "cold" at the same time every year, seasonal allergies might be to blame. Allergy symptoms, which usually come on suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to the allergen, can include:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose and/or throat
- Clear, runny nose
- Itchy, watery and/or red eyes
Spring Allergies! How to prevent them before they start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Allergies affect 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. An estimated 10 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. have asthma, related to their allergies. Allergies may be seasonal and symptoms are typically triggered by pollen (weeds, grass, trees) or airborne mold spores. Since the predominant pollen types vary by geographic region and pollen levels can change day-to-day, it is important to monitor daily pollen counts to avoid being subject to large amounts of it. To reduce pollen exposure, we recommend the following measures:
- Close windows and doors when pollen counts are high
- Remove clothes that have been worn outside, and shower to remove pollen from skin and hair
- Avoid outside activity in the morning when pollen counts are highest
Did you know, that one in five Americans has environmental or food allergies, and many are not aware of their condition, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality? We will work with you to identify allergies through testing and providing immunotherapy that targets the underlying condition, rather than just prescribing antihistamines that mask symptoms. This process often involves building up your immunity to a specific allergen by delivering progressively stronger doses over many months, usually through injections. We believe spending your days in a doctor’s office is not a choice most allergy sufferers want to experience just to be symptom free. At UFMC we specialize in educating our customers to save time and doctor co-payments by giving you the choice to administer your own medication at home. Of course, if the patient is not comfortable with home treatment, our doctors always welcome the regular office visit for heavy allergy patients.
With Spring in the air, allergies seem to becoming a persistent problem in the upcoming months. Don’t let allergies keep you from doing the everyday activities that you enjoy, find out what allergies affect you and how you can treat them. Allergies are extremely common and cause you to have symptoms that often make you feel slightly under the weather. In fact, 55% of the U.S. population has tested positive to one or more allergen. And specifically for spring allergies, ragweed pollen season has increased by by four weeks in the last 10 years. This means your allergy season, if allergic to pollen, will also increase. At UFMC we specialize in educating our customers. We not only do regular allergy testing, but we provide you with the tools to help you treat your symptoms.