What Is an Allergy?

allergiesAn allergy is a sensitivity of your immune system to something that is otherwise harmless. When your body tries to get rid of the ‘allergen’ (foreign substance), you experience symptoms like sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and a runny, stuffy nose. Typical allergens include pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold. They can be broken down into 2 main types:

Outdoor: Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies describe allergies that change with the seasons due to pollen from plants. For those who have seasonal allergies, symptoms come and go with the pollination seasons of certain trees, grasses or weeds. Pollen levels from these plants can vary day to day, depending upon several factors, including the weather.

Indoor: Year-Round Allergies

Indoor allergies can occur any time of the year and are caused by substances like dust mites, mold spores, or pet dander.

Allergy Types

There are many different types of allergies. Some of them include:

  • Hay Fever is an allergic response to pollen or other microscopic substances. Hay fever allergies can cause sinus blockage and infection.
  • Hives
  • Poison Ivy and plant allergies
  • Bee Sting Allergy. A normal reaction to a bee sting is different from a bee sting allergy.
  • Pet Allergies
  • Latex Allergy
  • Mold Allergy. Mold is present in many indoor and outdoor spaces, and in some foods.
  • Cosmetic Allergies caused by certain cosmetics or makeup?
  • Drug Allergies. It is important to know the difference between a normal side effect of a drug and an allergic reaction to a drug.
  • Eczema . This itchy skin rash, common in children and infants, affects some people all their lives.
  • Eye Allergies. It is important that you tell the difference between pink eye and eye allergies.
  • Food Allergies. These would include having an allergic reaction to milk, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and wheat gluten,
  • Sun Allergy (Photosensitivity) – an allergic response to sunlight.
  • Aspirin Allergy
  • Sulfite Allergy

What are the Symptoms of Allergies?

A severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is the medical term for a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within minutes after exposure to an allergen. That’s why it’s important to know what symptoms to look for:

  • Mouth: Itching, swelling of lips and/or tongue
  • Lungs: Shortness of breath, coughing and/or wheezing
  • Heart: Weak pulse, dizziness and/or passing out
  • Skin: Itching, hives, redness and/or swelling
  • Throat: Itching, tightness/closure, coughing
  • Stomach: Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramps

Allergies are also a main trigger for asthma attacks. If you have allergies, be sure and see your doctor.