According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), allergy is an overreaction from the immune system to substances that are generally harmless to most people. These substances are called “allergens.”
Generally, antibodies – or the “soldiers” comprising the immune system – combat infections and viruses that enter the body to prevent ailments. In allergies, the body responds to allergens by producing an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE reacts the same way it would with germs after detecting non-harmful substances like food, pollen, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and insect stings.
Although initial exposure to an allergen may not trigger a reaction, it can be quite different for subsequent instances. Upon repeated exposure, the antibodies may trigger the release of chemicals that cause an allergic reaction and manifest as symptoms like a runny nose and itchy or watery eyes.
The effective treatment of an allergy depends upon the diagnosis. To learn how you can manage yours, you should be able to identify which allergen triggers an allergic reaction, and the proper ways of managing your symptoms.
Allergy Diagnosis: How to Identify Your Allergen
The key difference between allergies and common colds lies in the cause. While colds happen because of viruses, allergies are triggered by substances that are harmless to most people. Under this premise, a genuine allergic reaction happens when the body releases antibodies to combat substances that don’t usually cause harm to humans.
To manage your allergies effectively, it is imperative that you seek medical help in identifying what causes it. This can be done through procedures like skin testing, but it can also be determined by simply monitoring the symptoms and talking to your doctor.
A skin test is a procedure done to determine a person’s sensitivity to certain substances. It is usually done before administering a full dose of a medication, but it can also be used to determine what triggers allergic reactions.
There are several methods of skin testing, but it all involves putting a small amount of substance to an incision of the outermost layer of the skin. Upon observation, the medical personnel will determine how the body reacts to it within 15 minutes of exposure. If the spot becomes swollen (much like an insect bite), the test result is positive on that particular substance.
Check the Symptoms
Recording the different symptoms that occur during an allergic reaction is also a good way to determine what you’re allergic to. For example, people suffering from allergic rhinitis may experience a combination of itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throat, and runny nose.
Calendar the Allergic Reaction
Aside from identifying symptoms, checking when and how often they occur is also a great way to determine the cause of the allergy. For example, if your allergic rhinitis becomes frequent during spring or autumn, it may be caused by the increased pollen circulation in the neighborhood. If it occurs year-round or in the presence of animals, it may be due to mold or pet dander.
4 Most Common Allergy Treatments
After identifying your allergies, the next step is to manage them with the help of allergy medication and first aid. Some of the most common treatments you may find effective are:
As one of the most common allergy relief medications, antihistamines are used to treat minor allergies by lowering the amount of histamine – a compound involved in immune responses – produced in the body. This, then, alleviates symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, and skin reactions. These medications come in different forms – from oral pills to nasal sprays and eye drops – in order to deliver symptom relief quickly.
Antihistamines also help prevent allergies. Most people with allergies take them with the knowledge of potential exposure to allergens. However, the use of these drugs should be based on a doctor’s prescription, especially for women who are pregnant and people suffering from liver disorders.
2. Saline Rinse
A saline rinse is commonly used to manage issues with the sinuses, making it a viable option for people suffering from allergic rhinitis. Aside from clearing the airways, it is also known to remove allergens present in the body.
You can opt for ready-to-use saline rinses that can be bought from pharmacies or make your own. If you choose the latter, you can start by mixing three teaspoons of rock salt (without iodine) with a teaspoon of baking soda. Dissolve it in water and use to rinse your nasal cavity with the help of rinsing devices that can be bought from the pharmacy.
3. Nasal Decongestants
Medications known as nasal decongestants can also help alleviate allergic reactions. Liquids, pills, and sprays containing decongestants can help reduce the swelling of the sinuses and treat stuffy nose. In turn, it also eases related symptoms like coughing and sore throat.
However, this type of treatment for allergic reactions shouldn’t be used continuously for over 72 hours. Consult your physician to be safe.
4. Immunotherapy or Allergy Shots
Immunotherapy, more commonly known as “allergy shots,” is considered as one of the most effective treatments for allergies affecting the ears, lungs, and nose and eyes. It helps with severe allergic reactions caused by bug bites and other allergens like mold, dust, animal dander, and grass.
It is also considered an effective treatment for asthma caused by allergies by eradicating allergic episodes that trigger asthma attacks.
Identify, Manage and Treat Allergies
The best way to solve a problem is to identify its cause – this is a statement applies best to allergies. In order to manage and treat allergic reactions effectively, you must identify what triggers it.
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