Some Fast Facts
- Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
- In data published from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 8.4% of US children under age 18 suffered from hay fever, 10% from respiratory allergies, 5.4% from food allergies, and 11.6% from skin allergies.
- Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 4%–6% of children in the United States.
- Food allergies are chronic conditions and they cannot be cured permanently. The only way to get by with a food allergy is to manage the symptoms and avoid allergens that trigger the person suffering from them.
- Some allergies are so debilitating to an individual’s life that they may qualify for aid and services according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots) helps reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85% of people with allergic rhinitis.
- The care that families provide their young allergic children with ends up causing an annual sum total of 25 billion dollars.
Types of Allergens & What Cause Them
The following allergens are the most common causes of allergies around the globe:
Most dairy products are big culprits of allergies for many people. The most common dairy allergen is cow milk which affects small children the most, particularly infants.
Eggs are the second most prolific allergens that also affect children the most. This applies to even egg-derived substances present in food.
A lot of nuts can be the cause of allergy; however, the peanut beats them all when it comes to being a dangerous allergen.
Soy products are also allergens.
Shellfish or mollusks, also cause allergic reactions in many people like crabs, shrimp, and lobsters.
Symptoms of Allergy
Allergic symptoms tend to vary from mild to severe in their intensity. They can appear to show either within minutes of exposure to an allergen or several hours after the exposure. When the symptoms get really intense they can produce a deadly state knows as anaphylaxis.
Here are some mild, moderate and severe symptoms of an allergic reaction:
- Redness of skin
- Swelling of different parts of the body
- Itching and irritation
- Eczema or rash
- Aches in the stomach
- Diarrhea or dysentery
- Congestion of nose
- Nose running
- Strange taste in the mouth
- Closing up of throat
- Inability to swallow anything
- Inability to breathe
- Skin color becoming bluish
- Lowering of blood pressure (such as feeling of weakness, coldness, fainting)
- Fainting and losing your senses
- Pain in the chest
- Weakening of the pulse
- Sensing fear and apprehension
How Do Doctors Test and Diagnose Allergies?
There are several steps for diagnosing an allergy that a doctor may perform. Some of these steps include skin testing, taking a medical history, questioning of symptoms, physical examination, allergy tests, prick tests and intra-dermal needle tests.
The first thing the doctor will do is take your medical history. By doing this they ask the patient if they have any family history of allergies to specific substances. This helps them narrow down their list of appropriate tests to be performed on the person.
Skin tests are another form of testing doctors use to diagnose allergies. The best thing about them is that they are minimally invasive and very easy to conduct. There are two methods of performing a skin test for allergy, the prick test, and the intra-dermal needle test.
In the prick test, the doctor takes the smallest quantity of a material that could possibly be an allergen and pricks it on your skin. The intra-dermal needle test consists of taking an intra-dermal needle and using it to inject a small amount of the allergen under the skin.
>>> Read more about Allergy Testing.
What Are the Treatments for Allergies?
There are many different effective treatments for allergies like pills, decongestants, epinephrine drops, sprays, antihistamines, steroids etc. The specific kind of medicine or treatment that should be taken depends on a person’s specific allergy and their medical history.
Immunotherapy is also an option that some people suffering from allergies can possibly consider. With this treatment, a person suffering from an allergy is given very slow and gradual exposure to the allergen in small doses over a long period of time.
When this treatment is successful, the sufferer can develop a natural and healthy immunity to the allergen.
How Can I Prevent an Allergic Reaction?
The optimal way to prevent allergic reactions is to limit your exposure to the allergens that flare your allergy and remove them from your clothes and beddings. Cleaning out your nose and eyes with special solutions can also help keep them clear of any allergens and prevent reactions.
>>> Read more about Tips to Avoid and Treat Allergies.