Prepare for allergy season this fall

Prepare for allergy season this fall

Thanks to NAPSI.

More than 50 million* Americans suffer from allergies each year, and for many of them there are some additional fears. For example, many people don’t realize that allergies can be deadly. Or that eating local honey, living in a dry climate or avoiding cut flowers will not cure allergies or prevent an allergic reaction. And nowadays there is often the question: is it allergies or is it COVID-19? Fortunately, there are tests that doctors can perform that can help them make that distinction. Here are a few facts that may help you too.

What to look for

Allergy symptoms can include:

• Watery eyes

• Accumulation

• Running nose

• Itchy eyes

• Vomiting and/or stomach cramps

• Wheezing

• Shortness of breath

• Dizziness or feeling faint

• Pale or blue skin

• Weak pulse

• Hives

• Repeated cough

• Tight, hoarse throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen tongue

What is an allergy?

Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US. An allergy is an exaggerated response of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance. Allergies exist all year round, both indoors and out, and affect people of all ages. Animal dander, dust mites, food, grasses, trees, weeds, and mold can all trigger an allergic reaction.

Autumn allergies

Some allergies are seasonal and are more common at different times of the year. The most common culprit for fall allergies is ragweed, which grows wild almost everywhere, usually between August and November. A number of plants that thrive during cool nights and warm days also cause fall allergies.

Who is affected?

Twenty to 40 percent of the population, including at least one in four children, suffers from allergies*.

People with allergies are often sensitive to more than one allergen. Prevention or treatment can make the difference between a chronic illness and a productive, healthy life.

Diagnosing allergies

Unfortunately, many of these also show up when someone has a cold, the flu, or even COVID-19, but doctors have ways of telling the difference. The first step is to identify allergen-specific antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This can be done in two ways.

  1. Skin prick test: Usually performed on the forearm and sometimes the back, the skin is cleaned with alcohol and an allergen extract is pricked into the skin. If an allergy is present, a small itchy bump and surrounding redness will appear within about 15 minutes, often referred to as a “wheal and flare.” This indicates the specific allergen.
  2. In vitro testing: The doctor simply takes a small amount of blood and has it tested in a lab. It is a less invasive method and gets test results within 24 hours. Many professional medical associations also recommend using in vitro tests, such as the OPTIGEN® Allergy Test.

So, once you know you have allergies, what can you do? Here are some options.

treatments

Allergy management falls into three main categories: avoidance, medication, and immunotherapy.

Avoidance: Once the source of an allergy has been identified, a solution may be to simply avoid it. This is most effective for food and animal allergies.

medication: Prescription drugs can reduce allergy symptoms. Many are effective immediately, although some may have side effects or may not work for everyone.

Immunotherapy: Allergy injections are often given in scheduled doses of gradually increasing concentrations with extracts containing relevant allergens. The idea is to slowly desensitize the body to the offending allergens. Ideally, an injection program can be discontinued after a few years.

Learn more

For more facts and tips on managing allergies, visit www.henryschein.com/MinarisMedical.

*Retini, M. (2017, December 1). Allergy Statistics and Allergy Facts. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-statistics.

Allergies can sometimes be confused with other conditions. Fortunately, doctors now have ways to tell the difference. (Infographic courtesy of NAPSI)
Prepare for allergy season this fall

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