Allergies are a reaction of the immune system to a substance that is typically harmless. These substances, known as allergens, can include things like pollen, dust, pet dander, certain foods, and some medications.
When the immune system encounters an allergen, it produces antibodies that trigger the release of chemicals like histamine, which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms can include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, runny nose, hives, swelling, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
Allergies can be managed with medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids, as well as through allergen avoidance strategies and immunotherapy (allergy shots). It's important to consult a healthcare provider if you suspect you have allergies, so they can help diagnose and manage your symptoms.
Allergy symptoms can vary depending on the type of allergen and the body's response to it. Common allergy symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Skin rash or hives
- Itchy throat or ears
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
- Headache or sinus pressure
Treatment of allergies depends on the type and severity of the allergy. Some helpful tips for dealing with allergies:
- If you know what you're allergic to, try to avoid it. For example, if you're allergic to pollen, try to stay indoors during high pollen counts when possible.
- Over-the-counter antihistamines can help relieve symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
- When you come into your house, remove your shoes, and wear slippers. This will help prevent outdoor pollen from being tracked around the house, especially if you have carpets.
- Use pet wipes to wipe down pets that regularly go outside in high allergy seasons. This may help with the pet dander all year as well.
- Avoid touching itchy eyes. Try using a damp paper towel or cloth as a compress to help instead of rubbing them.
- Keep car windows closed when passing areas where they are mowing grass to keep any flying debris out of your car and settling on your clothes.
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