Allergies and Hay Fever
If you are experiencing the typical symptoms of hay fevers such as sneezing, coughing, itchy throat, sniffles and itchy eyes, you are suffering from allergies and take heart, you are not alone. In the US, 30% of adults and 40% of children are affected by allergies every year. For most, the symptoms are distracting and irritating, but for a few, especially those suffering from food allergies, they can prove to be deadly. As many as 200,000 people visit emergency rooms each room for acute allergy care per year.
Allergies are a major cause of chronic sinusitis and nasal congestion. Although many patients suffer from seasonal, food, and animal allergies, the specific allergen (the item that causes the allergic response) varies by geographic location. Individuals that suffer from allergies typically report the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Chronic or recurrent sinusitis
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Rash or hives that develop when in contact with specific allergens
Because certain species of trees, grasses, and weeds only exist in specific areas of the country, each person has an individual allergic profile. These are considered inhalant allergens since the microscopic pollen or allergens affect people as they are inhaled. In the Midwest, the seasonal climate change creates massive changes in pollen counts throughout the year. Since a person’s symptoms fluctuate with the changing seasons and pollen counts, physicians coined the term, “seasonal allergies.” Common seasonal allergens include:
Many patients are sensitive to non-seasonal allergens. They exist despite the seasonal variation, temperature fluctuation, and geographic location. Like seasonal allergies, they can cause the same symptoms, require similar testing methods, and be treated in the same manner as seasonal allergies. Non-seasonal allergens include:
- Dust Mites
- Vespid (wasp, bee, ant)
Patients with food allergens may report similar responses to specific types of foods. Many patients can decipher the specific foods that can cause their symptoms through simple trial and error. However, some foods can cause potentially life threatening situations and should be taken very seriously. These include:
- Tree Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts)
- Seafood and shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp)
Allergies to animals are usually due to hypersensitivity to fur or dander, which is the saliva and skin cells that are shed by dogs and cats. Symptoms are similar to those of seasonal and non-seasonal allergies, and can be tested and treated in similar fashion.