Do you find yourself sneezing and sniffling every time you go outdoors? Or do you cough uncontrollably after it rains? If so, you are not alone.
Every year, thousands of people all over the world suffer from the effects of allergies, which are a direct response from the body’s immune system to an unknown substance.
While some people have more mild allergic responses, many have severe or life-threatening reactions that can be serious.
If you or someone you love suffer from allergies, there are things can be done to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Learning what foreign substances your body cannot tolerate is the key to managing allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the fifth cause of chronic diseases in the United States including asthma.
Certain cities in the United States are more difficult to live in with allergies. Texas, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, and Mississippi are the top allergic states.
These states have a higher pollen count and allergy medication use than other states.
Americans are not the only ones who are suffering from allergy related symptoms.
In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that food allergies have doubled over the last decade and over one million people have at least one allergy symptom at some point during their lifetime.
Research suggests that over half of allergy sufferers in the United Kingdom are children. The British Allergy Foundation, also known as Allergy U.K. states that over 150 million people in Europe have allergies.
Doctors predict as many as 50 percents of Europeans will have some sort of allergy during their lifetimes. The statistics include food allergies, which range from mild symptoms like hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
In Europe, hospitalizations for severe reactions to food allergens have increased seven-fold over the last few years.
How Do You Know If You Have Allergies?
The most common allergic symptoms of nasal allergies include itchy eyes, watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and slight fatigue.
If you notice these symptoms after you mow the grass or after a rain storm, it is likely you have allergies.
Allergies can also be the cause of skin issues such as eczema, hives, and inflamed or red skin. Typically these symptoms occur after you come into contact with substances your body is allergic to.
Hives usually last just a few hours, however, some people can develop chronic hives that are difficult to diagnose.
Chronic hives typically do not itch or cause long-term bruising.
Certain things such as poison oak, poison ivy, dust mites and latex are known offenders.
If you notice symptoms after eating certain foods, you may have food allergies.
Itchy throat, facial swelling, wheezing, swelling of the tongue and difficulty breathing are symptoms you should not ignore.
Many food allergies only cause mild symptoms, but some can increase in severity over time and may even be life-threatening. Peanuts, milk and shellfish are the top three allergy causing foods, especially in children.
Approximately 38 percent of all children with a history of allergies to food, have had severe reactions that require immediate medical attention.
Anaphylaxis can also be caused by reactions to medications and insect bites such as bee or wasp stings, pets and latex.
What are the Common Symptoms of Allergies?
Allergies can cause mild symptoms, but occasionally they can lead to other serious conditions such as asthma, chronic sinus infections, and ear infections.
Those who have chronic allergic symptoms may also need antibiotics and steroids to help manage the condition, which can be damaging to the body over the long term.
Researchers believe that climate changes are responsible for the increase in allergies in people all over the world.
The National Wildlife Federation, along with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation or AAFA, conducted a study in 2010 to report how recent changes in the climate affected people living with allergic conditions and chronic conditions like asthma.
Climate changes have led to an increase in allergens, making pollution more prominent and pollen counts higher, all of which lead to an increase in asthma attacks and allergy symptoms.
Ragweed is a plant that is the leading cause of hay fever and it produces more pollen per plant than any other plant in very warm climates. This is especially a problem for those living in rural or farming areas.
Poison ivy also grows faster and produces more of the allergy-causing substance urushiol in hotter climates with higher carbon dioxide levels.
Those who come into contact with poison ivy during this time often have a more severe rash and more intense itching than during cooler weather periods. This doesn’t mean that people living in cities can escape allergies.
Global warming has caused pollution to increase in cities, increasing the amount of asthma attacks in those with the chronic condition. Pollen production in cities is also increased in warmer temperatures.
Although many people have minor allergy symptoms managed with medications, many suffer from long-term effects that are not as easy to control.
Can Allergies Cause a Fever?
Allergies do not typically cause fever, so if fever is present it often means there is a secondary condition present.
Fever is when body temperatures rise in the hypothalamus, the area of our brain responsible for keeping our body temperatures at normal levels.
Fever usually occurs when infection is present somewhere in the body and not in response merely to an allergen, according to the National Institute of Health.
Research has shown that airborne allergies never cause fever unless an underlying medical condition is present.
How to Reduce Symptoms of Allergies?
If you suffer from allergies, there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms.
If indoor allergies are a problem for you, reduce exposure to pet dander by keeping your pet outside or vacuuming frequently if they live inside with you.
Controlling dust, avoiding cigarette smoke and cleaning to remove dust mites will also keep you symptom-free.
Washing linens, pillows, and bedding in hot water (over 150 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week will also reduce the likelihood allergy symptoms.
Many people find they have an increase in allergic rhinitis if there is an infestation of pests inside their home. Be sure to keep roaches and mice at bay, to reduce a reaction to urine and dander.
If you find your allergies worse outdoors or during the spring, there are ways to prevent or at least reduce symptoms.
Avoid going on outdoor excursions or camping trips during times when the pollen count is highest.
Since many outdoor allergens cause symptoms when inhaled, always wear a mask to work in barns, mow the grass or rake leaves. If your allergies are very severe, have someone else do these outdoor chores.
Recent dietary studies have shown that many allergy and asthma sufferers have reduced symptoms when following a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Foods such as nuts, fish and pumpkin are rich in these substances. Taking probiotics found in supplement form or in yogurt may also help keep allergic rhinitis symptoms from worsening.
In many instances, people were able to reduce the use of allergy medications after adding probiotics into their daily diet.
Allergy testing and immunotherapy are two ways to accomplish this goal, as well as taking prescription nasal sprays, antihistamines or decongestants.
If your allergies are difficult to control, however, it is important to seek the advice of a doctor who can help you identify your allergens and take steps to reduce your sensitivity to them.
Since food and medication allergies can be life-threatening, it is important that you seek advice from your doctor on ways to keep them under control.
It is not always possible to avoid food allergies, especially when dining out or at pot luck lunches.
If your food allergy has the potential to cause anaphylaxis, your doctor may prescribe an EpiPen for you to use if you accidentally ingest food you are allergic to. This medication can save your life and give you time to seek emergency medical help.
How to Deal with Allergies
While allergies are not always easy to deal with, there are ways you can manage yours and live a productive life both indoors and out with just a few lifestyle modifications or medication.
Every year, doctors are discovering new ways to help combat allergies and asthma, especially in the face of a rapidly changing climate and growing population.
Who is at Risk of Developing Allergies?
While anyone can develop allergies at any age, many begin in early childhood and are outgrown. Those who have a close family history of allergies are more likely to develop them over time.
Other risk factors include genetics, tobacco use, exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution and antigens. Males are known to have allergies more often than females, as well.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is the type of allergy most people suffer from.
This condition is often referred to as hay fever and can occur year-round or only at certain times of the year.
Those who have allergic rhinitis often are allergic to dust, mold, weeds, trees, pet dander and pollen.
Once these allergens are inhaled, they inflame the nasal tissues and passages, which cause nasal symptoms that can make you miserable.
Other Conditions Related with Allergies
Asthma is another common medical condition caused by allergies and it often co-exists with allergic rhinitis. This respiratory condition appears when the tissues of the lungs are irritated, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and coughing.
The eyes are also at risk of allergies, most commonly conjunctivitis. People typically experience in both eyes such as eye redness, puffiness and mucous.
The skin can also be affected by allergies. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is the most common type of skin allergy, especially in babies. Once irritated, the skin becomes dry, red, itchy and scaly.