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Common Causes of Allergic Reactions

woman with allergies talking to doctorSneezing. Red, itchy eyes. Hives. Shortness of breath. What do these symptoms have in common? They’re all common allergic reactions brought on by a variety of allergy triggers. If you have allergies, you’ve got a lot of company.

About 30 percent of U.S. adults and 40 percent of children suffer from allergies and the uncomfortable symptoms they cause. Read on to see why allergic reactions happen and what you can do to effectively treat your symptoms.

What Is an Allergic Reaction?

A healthy immune system is critical for your body to fight off invaders that enter in the form of bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, your immune system is tricked by harmless substances like nuts, eggs, or pet dander, and goes on the attack. Your immune system floods your body with antibodies that try to stop the invading substance in its tracks. These antibodies alert your body to release a substance called histamine, which is responsible for all of the troublesome symptoms you experience during an allergy attack. Antibodies are specific to one kind of allergen. This is why you might experience an allergic reaction when you eat eggs, but not with peanuts.

What Are the Common Causes of Allergic Reactions?

Doctors are still studying the reasons for allergic reactions. Although a single answer is still elusive, doctors agree that family history plays a major role in whether you will suffer with allergies. Common allergens include:

  • Pet dander
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Various medicines such as penicillin and sulfonamides
  • Dust mites
  • Various foods like peanuts, eggs, soy, shellfish, milk, and wheat
  • Latex
  • Mold
  • Tree and plant pollen

What Are Typical Allergy Symptoms?

Allergic reactions range from slightly irritating to potentially life-threatening. How your body reacts to an allergen depends on how much entered your body through your skin, mouth, eyes, nose, or stomach.

Common symptoms from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and stuffiness
  • Itchiness of eyes, nose, or on the roof of the mouth
  • Puffy, red eyes

Food allergies can cause:

  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • Hives

Medication allergies can cause:

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face
  • Wheezing

Bee and insect sting allergies can cause:

  • Swelling at the area of the sting
  • Hives or itchiness on all parts of the body
  • Coughing, tightness in the chest, and wheezing

Most of the symptoms of an allergic reaction are mild to moderate and can be treated with other-the-counter medication. However, anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that can be life-threatening. It can start with symptoms listed above, but worsen by inhibiting breathing and sending the body into shock. Anaphylaxis demands immediate medical treatment in a hospital emergency room.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Treatment options vary for allergic reactions depending on their severity and cause. For mild symptoms, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays are effective. Inhalers can alleviate breathing problems while allergy shots, known as immunotherapy, are effective at providing relief to longtime allergy sufferers who’ve had trouble managing the symptoms from allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. If you’re at risk of anaphylaxis, your doctor may prescribe an Epi-Pen, which is an injectable medication that reduces the symptoms. After using an Epi-Pen, seek medical treatment immediately.

Choose Lakeside Allergy ENT for Allergy Treatment

At Lakeside Allergy ENT, we employ three board-certified otolaryngologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating all types of allergic reactions in addition to disorders of the ears, nose, and throat. If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms, request an appointment today by filling out the form on this page or give us a call at 972-771-5443.

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Office will be closed April 8 due to school closures for the eclipse in the area.