How Do Allergies Develop?

sneezing girlAllergies are very common, and they can cause everything from annoying symptoms to a potentially life-threatening reaction.

What are Allergies?

Your immune system’s job is to defend your body against dangers such as bacteria, viruses, or toxic substances. But if you have an allergy, your immune system mistakenly reacts to an otherwise harmless substance that enters your body, viewing it as a threat and triggering an allergic response.

Who Do Allergies Affect?

Anyone of any age can be affected by allergies. You can have allergies as a child, or you may be exposed to a particular substance and then suddenly become allergic to it as an adult.

Allergies have a genetic component. If your parents have allergies, your chances of having them increases If both parents have them, your risk more than doubles. Although you may have a tendency to have allergies, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop symptoms.

Smoking, pollution, infection, and hormones have also all been linked to an increased tendency to develop an allergy.

How Do Allergies Develop?

Allergies begin to develop when you come into contact with an allergen – the substance you’re allergic to. As your immune system detects a threat, you may have a pro-inflammatory response. Your body then becomes sensitized to the substance, and when it comes into contact with it again, it responds by releasing substances such as histamine, which causes symptoms like sneezing, tearing up, or itching, which are designed to defend your body against the perceived threat.

Allergens can include a wide variety of substances, including animal dander, certain medications, foods, insect bites or stings, and mold.

What Symptoms Do Allergies Cause?

Allergies can often cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Runny, swollen, and inflamed nose
  • Constant sneezing
  • Watery eyes   
  • Itchy eyes, nose, or the roof of your mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Rashes
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Stomach upset
  • Eczema
  • Dry, red, itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis – a life-threatening reaction that’s characterized by symptoms such as difficulty breathing and tightness in the throat. This requires immediate medical attention.

What are Treatment Options for Allergies?

The following are some common treatment options for allergies:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal sprays
  • Eye drops
  • Inhaled medication
  • Epinephrine – often prescribed under the brand name EpiPen, this autoinjector can be administered by you or another person if you’re experiencing anaphylaxis
  • Immunotherapy – allergy shots or medication under your tongue that gradually increases your exposure to the substance you’re allergic to. Over time, your body becomes desensitized to the allergen.

If you’re experiencing symptoms that may suggest you have an allergy, make an appointment today with Lakeside Allergy ENT. We have the best ear, nose, and throat and allergy specialists in Texas and have three convenient locations in Rockwall, Forney, and Wylie, TX to serve you.

Our practice offers several types of allergy testing to determine if you have an allergy, and if so, what substance or substances you’re allergic to. From there, we’ll devise the most effective treatment plan to treat your allergies.

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