Attacking Allergies


All that yellow pollen out there is sure to make seasonal allergy sufferers very aware that spring has sprung. Allergies affect more than 50 million people per year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. But seasonal allergies are just some of the allergies from which these millions suffer. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective treatment. Today, allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.

Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction. There are three primary types:
– Inhaled allergens affect the body when they come in contact with the lungs or membranes of the nostrils. Pollen is the most common inhaled allergen.
–  Ingested allergens are present in certain foods, such as peanuts, soy, and gluten.
– Contact allergens must come in contact with your skin to produce a reaction. An example of a reaction from a contact allergen is the rash and itching caused by poison ivy.

Allergies occur when your immune system, which is your body’s natural defense, overreacts to something in your environment. For example, pollen, which is normally harmless, can cause your body to overreact. This response can lead to a runny nose, sneezing, blocked sinuses, and watery eyes.

Adults and children of any age can be tested. It involves exposing you to a very small amount of a particular allergen and recording the reaction. Positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes.

Before your test, your doctor will ask you about your lifestyle, family history, and more. He or she will likely tell you to stop taking certain medications like over-the-counter antihistamines prior to the test because they can affect the test results.

Spring brings with it warmer weather and beautiful blooms ... but it also brings with it the dreaded ritual of sneezing and sniffling for allergy sufferers. So whether you have seasonal, food, or contact allergies, don’t wait any longer – go ahead and get tested, so you can finally get some relief and enjoy the season and all its splendor.