Allergies are a common condition affecting more than one out of every 5 people. Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system triggered by a typically harmless substance. This substance, such as pollen, mold or animal dander), is known as an allergen. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their bodies produce antibodies and release a variety of chemicals including histamine. Histamine is the main cause for most allergy symptoms. Most allergies are inherited. People with asthma are more likely to suffer from allergies. Since most allergens are found in the air, the reaction occurs in the eyes, nose and lungs. If the allergen is ingested, the reaction can occur in the mouth or stomach. Most allergic reactions result in mild symptoms that include sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching or rashes. Moderate or severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, are rare but can be life-threatening and cause abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting and dizziness. Bee stings, penicillin and peanuts can cause more serious reactions.
Allergies can be seasonal and only cause reactions during certain times of the year. This condition is known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever and is usually caused by pollen and other allergens that are in the air from March until November. These allergies can be affected by the weather.
Allergy treatments are usually prescribed in the form of over-the-counter or prescription medication. Antihistamines prevent the reaction caused by the release of histamine and reduce symptoms. Decongestants unblock nasal passages and improve breathing. Nasal sprays keep the nasal passages clean and moist and limit the reaction to allergens. But the most effective treatment in relieving allergy symptoms is simply to avoid the allergen.
Wearing sunglasses while outside and washing your hands frequently can help to keep you free of contamination.
Children can develop allergies at any age, and can therefore be tested at any age as well. While determining specific allergies is not always necessary in young children, it can help diagnose recurring colds, runny noses or sinus infections. Allergy testing can be performed through a skin allergy test or through the radioallergosorbent (RAST) test, a blood test that examines antibody levels in response to common allergens.
Allergies are a common condition that affect one out of every 5 people and are caused by an immune system response to certain triggers that are otherwise harmless. These triggers cause symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, headaches, stomach pain and diarrhea.
Although there is no cure for allergic reactions, there are many different treatment options available to help control the symptoms of allergies. Our doctors are specially trained to identify the specific allergens that trigger reactions in each person, and will help you develop the best defense against your individual allergies. A customized prevention and treatment plan helps relieve symptoms and allows patients to enjoy a higher quality of life. While you may not be able to completely prevent allergies from affecting you, they do not have to be a burden to your everyday life.
You can work to prevent symptoms from occurring by identifying the triggers that cause your symptoms and then trying to avoid them as much as possible. When symptoms do arise, they can be treated through medications, antihistamines, nasal sprays or decongestants, among other methods. There is no set treatment that works more efficiently than others, so it is important to find out which treatment works best for you.
While infants are protected from certain diseases at birth because of antibodies passed on to them from the mother, this maternal protection is only temporary.
Continuing immunity against many diseases can be achieved through vaccinations, most often administered as injections, but sometimes administered orally or nasally.
Vaccinations use small amounts of killed or weakened microorganisms that cause the targeted diseases.
Introducing these altered pathogens into the body assists the immune system in developing antibodies as if it were fighting off the actual disease. These antibodies provide the patient with long-term protection.
Reasons for Immunizations
Many diseases that once caused serious illness, residual disability and even death are rare today because of routine immunizations. Diseases such as polio, measles and pertussis (whooping cough) that previously infected thousands of people annually have been nearly wiped out. When an individual is immunized against a disease, the chances of contracting that illness are eliminated or greatly reduced. Vaccination may also reduce the risk of complications if the disease in contracted in spite of the vaccination.
Certain immunizations are required or recommended for public school or college attendance, in order to enter the military or before traveling to other countries. Vaccinations are also recommended for certain populations, such as infants, adolescents, older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic medical conditions.
Some of the vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention include those for the prevention of:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Herpes Zoster (shingles) for adults over 60 years
- Meningitis for college students or others in dormitories
Social Resistance to Vaccinations
Some people continue to question the safety of vaccinations, believing their administration may cause various abnormalities, such as autism. All research studies to date prove that these fears are unfounded. In some communities, particularly among certain ethnic groups or in certain foreign countries, suspicion of ulterior political motives for vaccination abound. The resistance of certain individuals and populations to receive, or have their children receive, vaccinations has led to recent outbreaks of diseases previously thought to have been eradicated.