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allergies

Allergies

What is an Allergy?

Allergies are overreactions of the immune system to substances that are otherwise harmless. The most common allergies are caused by every day, airborne particles such as pollens or house dust mites. For many people, these tiny particles are insignificant. But for people with allergies, they can trigger seasonal or chronic respiratory conditions, such as hay fever or asthma.

Allergies can significantly reduce people’s quality of life. It affects not only their personal, but also their professional lives. Coping with itchy eyes and nasal congestion has its cost for the individual, but also for society in terms of poorer quality of life, lower productivity levels at work and increased sick leave.

 

CLASSIC ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

  • Asthma
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Burning, itching, or watery eyes
  • Chronic congestion
  • Facial pain related to sinus infections/congestion
  • Headaches
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome Headaches
  • Chronic nasal discharge (runny nose)  
  • Chronic Sinus infection  
  • Chronic use of over the counter and prescription drugs

 

ADDITIONAL SYMPTOMS THAT CAN BE RELATED TO ALLERGIES

  • Anxiety and Related Psychological Problems
  • Arthritic Symptoms
  • Blurred Vision
  • Brittle Hair/ Nails
  • Chronic Sickness
  • Colds and Flus
  • Coughing
  • Dandruff
  • Dark Circles Under Eyes
  • Depression
  • Eczema and Other Skin Diseases
  • Enhanced Symptoms of PMS
  • Excessive Mucus
  • Faintness/Dizziness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Frequent Puffiness in The Face, Ankles & Fingers
  • Frequent/Urgent Urination
  • Gastrointestinal Problems (IBS, Etc.)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Hot Flashes (Non-Menopause)
  • Inexplicable Racing Pulse
  • Joint Pain
  • Learning and attention impairment
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Migraines
  • Mouth breathing dental malocclusion
  • Muscle Aches
  • Night Sweats
  • Perspiration for No Obvious Reason
  • Ringing in The Ears
  • Skin Pallor
  • Sleep disturbances/Insomnia
  • Swelling Under Eyes
  • Unknown Weight Fluctuations

 

 

Mental Effects of Allergic Disease

  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling miserable
  • Feeling irritable
  • Depression
  • Embarrassment

 

What Factors May Cause Allergies?

The immune system’s function is to activate the body to fight against intruders such as parasites, bacteria, viruses and other foreign organisms and material that might harm it. It occurs when the body encounters the intruder, e.g. in the skin as a reddening, swelling and soreness. A special group of active substances in the body called antibodies and a variety of white blood cells are active in the normal immunological processes.

An allergy, ( except skin allergy) is caused by the unnecessary production of antibodies against perfectly natural substances in our environment, such as pollens. The immune system reacts towards these in the same way it would react towards something harmful. Why the immune system “misreads” harmless agents is unknown, but you can only become allergic to a substance once you have been exposed to it before, a process called “sensitization”.

The possibility of becoming allergic is linked to both inheritance and environment. The process by which allergies are inherited are not fully understood. Even though other members of the family may be allergic to pollens, a child may develop a quite different kind of allergy – e.g. house dust mite allergy.

 

Common Allergy Sources

The top sources that causes allergic reactions are:

  • Grasses
  • Ragweed
  • House dust mites
  • Cats
  • Birch
  • Dogs
  • Foods

 

What are the types of allergies?

Respiratory Allergy

Respiratory allergies are the most common allergies. Symptoms include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and runny nose, and wheezing.  Hay fever (also known as rhinitis) and/or asthma are the most common ways for respiratory allergies to manifest themselves. The respiratory system may be affected if you’re allergic to tree pollen, grass pollen, animals, molds and house dust mites.

Skin-related Allergy

Eczema, also called contact allergy or contact dermatitis, is the term used for an over-reaction in the skin caused by direct contact with certain substances (allergens) in our environment. It can be either allergic or non-allergic in nature. The two reactions often look the same. One way to distinguish between the two is to perform allergy testing.

Burden of Allergic Disease

Allergy is a widespread disease, which is becoming increasingly common worldwide and has a tendency to accelerate with time. Currently, more than 20% of the population suffer from some sort of allergy.

For most allergy sufferers, their allergy leads to a significantly reduced quality of life, affecting both work and leisure time. Allergy patients can relieve symptoms by self-imposing restrictions on activities to avoid allergen exposure. Self-imposed restrictions may have psychological and social consequences. According to a European survey of diagnosed allergy sufferers, around 80% of the respondents find that their disease considerably affects their daily activities.

 

Allergies affect more than 60 million people in the United States

  • On average, a patient is allergic to more than 2 sources
  • Allergic disease is the 5th most prevalent chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, the 3rd most prevalent among children
  • Allergy is a chronic condition that can require a lifetime of symptomatic medications
  • Allergic disease costs patients $7.9 billion per year
  • Approximately 16.7 million physician office visits each year are due to allergic rhinitis
  • In the United States, Allergic Rhinitis results in 3.5 million lost workdays and 2 million lost school days annually

 

How are Allergies Diagnosed?

To determine whether you are allergic, an allergy technician may perform a skin test

A skin test involves a gentle prick with a drop of allergen extract on the surface of your back.  This method may result in mild swelling and a reddening of the skin, which tells the doctor that you have an allergy.  It is not painful and you will know your results the same day.  The test takes approximately 30 minutes.   If you test positive, you will then be educated on the possible treatment such as immunotherapy.

How are allergies treated?

  • Allergen avoidance
  • Symptomatic medication
  • Allergy vaccination

 

The strategy of allergen avoidance is very difficult, especially for airborne allergens such as grass pollen. Symptomatic medications (e.g., antihistamines and local steroids) aim only at controlling the symptoms of allergic disease temporarily but do not treat the actual cause of the disease. As a result, allergy sufferers can face a lifetime of symptomatic treatment, often with inadequate symptom control and a progressively worsening allergy.

Allergy vaccination is the only treatment modality that actually addresses the underlying cause of the allergic disease, as recognized by the World Health Organization and key allergy treatment guidelines, and should therefore form the foundation of allergy treatment.

Several kinds of medication can relieve or prevent your allergic symptoms, such as oral medications or nasal sprays. Another kind of treatment is allergy immunotherapy according to the World Health Organization (WHO) – is the only treatment that treats the cause of your allergy instead of just the symptoms.

 

What is Allergy Immunotherapy?

Allergy Immunotherapy is a clinically documented treatment that considerably reduces or completely removes your allergy symptoms and the need for traditional, symptom-relieving medication. Until your immune system has had time to adjust, you may still need the medication you are already using. After three to six months, your need for medications will decrease and your symptoms will become less severe. An additional effect of immunotherapy is that it may prevent the onset of other allergies and the development of asthma. Studies have shown that children who were at an increased risk of developing asthma were able to resist the onset of asthma and see their existing allergic symptoms decrease after starting immunotherapy.

Treatment has a long-standing effect even after it is discontinued. New scientific studies have shown that results are maintained for 5 to 10 years after the course of immunotherapy has been completed.

If you feel that avoidance measures do not help as much as you would like and your need for allergy medication is significant, you should contact us at (708) 345-8255 for consultation in order to alleviate and possibly even eliminate your allergic disease.

 

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