How to Manage AllergiesAn allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to a chemical or agent in the environment that you are exposed to. There are many different ways that you can be exposed to allergens, including skin contact, inhaling a substance, or being stung by an insect. Allergies often cause or aggravate chronic illnesses.
Allergy symptoms vary depending on the type of reaction. Allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- An itchy rash
- Abdominal pain
People with severe allergies may even suffer from life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis usually causes more than one of the following: throat or tongue swelling, itchy rash, shortness of breath, vomiting, low blood pressure and lightheadedness.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis generally come on rapidly. People who are at risk of anaphylaxis may carry an ephedrine pen to use if they are exposed to the allergen.
Allergy Testing & Treatment
If you have allergy symptoms or know you have allergies, contact your physician. Your primary care provider may offer you allergy testing or refer you to an allergy specialist. Types of allergy tests include:
- Intradermal skin testing, which involves injection of a small amount of the suspected allergen under the surface of the skin
- Blood tests to measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood
- Oral food challenge (OFC), a medical procedure in which a food is eaten slowly, in gradually increasing amounts, to diagnose or rule out a food allergy
Allergy treatments vary depending on what you’re allergic to and how severe your symptoms are. Your healthcare provider can help you understand your options including over-the-counter and prescription medications and allergy shots.
Air filters may help some patients, as they force air through a screen that traps particles including allergens like pet dander, pollen and dust mites. The best preventative way to deal with an allergy is to avoid exposure to it as much as possible.
Speak with your primary care provider for more information about allergy symptoms, testing and treatments.