Living with Allergies
Ages, Symptoms, Tests, Treatment and Tips for Living with Allergies
Living with Allergies Overview
When a person has allergies, this can greatly affect their lifestyle. That can mean giving up things that put you in direct contact with allergy triggers. For instance, those who have allergies that cause harsh asthma attacks must learn new ways to go about their lives. The effects of this condition can range from minor to life-threatening, and for those who have symptoms in the higher range, it can be serious.
Those who have severe asthma symptoms must be aware of the foods they eat (as some can trigger an attack), and practice safe physical exercise (as going too hard can cause an attack, but good cardiovascular health can help control them). Other ways to work on asthma control include minimizing environmental triggers like staying away from places that have a lot of pollen, pet dander, dust, mold, and some chemicals.
More on that, asthma affects more than 24.7 million people in the US alone, out of which more than 5.5 million are children under 18. In fact, asthma is the sixth leading cause of chronic illnesses in the United States.
When Do You Start Living with Allergies?
Many doctors used to think children below the age of two didn’t get allergies because their immune systems haven’t fully developed. However, recent studies have shown this is not always true. While you may develop some allergies later in life too, a person can get some at any age.
Babies and Children Up to Age 5
With seasonal allergens like pollen and grass, some people must have repeated exposure before their body reacts to them. While babies may not appear to have a reaction to these things at first, they can have problems later when their immune system is fully developed.
However, babies can have immediate reactions to things like food, pets, mold, or chemical substances. In comparison, seasonal allergies start later in life, because it usually takes at least one season for them to develop.
Teenagers Up to Age 18
During teenage, it is not common to develop an allergy as your immune system knows which substances are harmful and which are not. Due to some medication or psychological factors, allergy can still be developed, but the chances are very slim.
Adults Age 20 and Over
In an adult with no previous history, environmental allergies, food allergies, or other allergies can be developed. Most people who acquire allergies in adulthood typically do so in their 20’s and 30’s, but they may occur at any age.
Researchers do not really understand what triggers the body to respond despite years of incidental interaction with an allergen. Scientists believe that something has shifted in the patient’s atmosphere that lets them respond to a substance for which they have not been so much exposed to before.
One hypothesis called the “hygiene hypothesis, states that “The sterile atmosphere can cause to overreact to innocuous items like pet dander and peanuts in their immune systems.”
What Does Living With Allergies Look Like?
If you suspect that you are allergic to something, then there are some symptoms you will experience. If you notice these symptoms, then consider a doctor’s appointment.
Following are the symptoms of an allergic attack:
- wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
- a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
- sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
- itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
- swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- dry, red and cracked skin
- tummy pain, feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhea
If you are not suffering from all of these symptoms, but few are present, then you still need a doctor’s check-up.
Think Your Living with Allergies? Take a Test
An allergy test is essential to figure out exactly which allergen is affecting your health. A doctor or medical professional will give you the test and diagnose you.
One way doctors can find allergens is by completing a simple skin check. This involves the doctor observing triggers linked to the environment, food, and touch. Scratch, intradermal, and patch checks are the three forms of skin examinations.
First, the doctor will attempt a scratch or patch exam. For the scratch, they’ll mix the allergen with a solution, then combine the mix on a segment of the skin. The patch is similar in that it involves the skin. The doctor will mix a solution, put it on the patch, and apply that to the skin. After that, (for the scratch test) the doctor will use a specific tool that gently pierces the allergens into the skin’s surface. For both tests, next, the doctor will watch how your skin reacts. If they see your skin reacts to a particular allergen (showing signs of redness, swelling, stiffness, or surface itchiness) over the test site, then that is usually enough proof of your allergy.
Sometimes, your skin may not show enough reactions for the doctor to make a definite decision. If this happens, they may ask you to take an intradermal skin test. This is the mix of a controlled number of allergens into the skin dermis membrane. Finally, your doctor will again track your skin’s response and make a decision.
If you experience a strong allergic reaction to a skin examination, a blood test may be ordered by the doctor. After they draw your blood, the doctor will send the test into a lab. There, researchers will screen it for antibodies to common allergens. The procedure is called ImmunoCAP, and it works by highlighting antibodies from major allergens.
A doctor may also recommend an elimination diet to identify food things that may trigger a response in you. The test involves the patient removing some things from their diet and then re-introducing it. How your body reacts to this will usually tell the doctor what they need to know.
If your test comes back positive, then the first thing to do is try to stay calm and talk to a doctor. They can give you medicine and an inhaler if needed. While this helps relieve symptoms, allergies can’t be fully cured.
There are few things you need to ensure to be healthy even with allergy:
Tips for Living with Allergies
Be aware of your environment. If you know you have a food allergy, always check the ingredients of what you are eating. With dust or pollen, avoid windy days and stay away from places that have high levels of these.
Think of yourself as a spy defending your body from potentially harmful substances. All of this can sound scary, but if you avoid triggers, you may not notice symptoms at all, or hardly. Staying cautious about your health will eventually be a routine.
Carry Your Inhaler/Epi-Pen with You
Also, if you have asthma or other breathing issues from allergies, you may want to carry your inhaler or your epi-pen with you at all times. Just in case an attack happens, you will always be prepared.
There are two types of treatments for allergies.
Both of these methods have shown results let’s look deeper into both of them.
Natural therapy includes all the therapeutic ways to incline allergies without using any medication. This includes steaming and eating only a natural diet. But the thing that is considered the most effective in the treatment of allergy not involving drugs is acupuncture.
Studies now accept that the nervous system and immune system are regulated by acupuncture. Modern science today acknowledges that acupuncture works on the nerve and immune systems by advancing regulatory processes and the transportation of substances that may affect inflammation, histamine, and immune reaction.
Acupuncture has helped reduced the allergy sensitivity of millions of people, but it does not guarantee a cure as its progress cannot be tracked.
How Does Acupuncture Treatment Work?
The acupuncture therapy attempts to relieve the over reactance to allergens by calming the “Lung” tension and controlling the “Liver.” If signs are not present, the therapy seeks to stabilize the established TCM disharmonies and improve them. Therefore, allergy acupuncture therapy has a preventive and medicinal component. During a season or start of symptoms, patients should be examined for improved outcomes.
Medicinal Therapy involves the use of drugs to suppress the immune response of the body. This therapy is known as immunotherapy and is one of the better treatment options for curing almost any allergy. This therapy works as exposure therapy.
The type of long-term treatment named allergy shots is a type of allergic immunotherapy, which reduces allergy symptoms, allergic asthma, conjunctivitis (allergy to the eye), or stinging insect-allergy in many people. Allergies are also normal.
This decreases allergens’ susceptibility and also contributes, often when medication has ended, to permanent relief from allergy symptoms. This makes it practical and advantageous for certain patients to undergo care.
How Does Immunotherapy Work?
Immunotherapy functions like a vaccine. Your body responds by developing resistance or tolerance of the allergy to injected amounts of a particular allergen at gradually increasing doses.
There are two phases in immunotherapy:
• Build-up phase. Injections are rendered approximately 1 or 2 days a week with rising quantities of allergens. This process’s duration differs from three months to six months, depending on how frequently the doses are administered.
• Maintenance phase. This starts when the dosage is effective. The effective dose of maintenance depends on your susceptibility to allergens and your reaction to the uptake level. There would be longer cycle times, from two to four weeks, during the maintenance process.
During the build-up process, you may see a reduction in symptoms, although the maintenance dosage may take up to 12 months to see a difference. In total, preventive medication can take three to five years after allergy shots work. You can discuss with your allergy physician the request to stop allergy shots.
If you have allergies, try not to worry too much. Try to take some preventive measures, and you will have a good chance of avoiding allergens. Living with allergies does not prevent from having a healthy and happy lifestyle. Under a few restrictions, you will be able to do almost anything.
Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (September 01, 2020)
- Erin Coakley (2016). “Living Well With Allergies: Real-Life Tips From Our Social Community”. Everyday Health.
- Lindsey Gudritz (2019). “Cat Conundrums: What It’s Like to Live with Severe Allergies”. Healthline Media.
- Becky Upham (2019). “Think You’re Allergic to Penicillin? Think Again”. Everyday Health.
Medically Reviewed By
I have reviewed the articles on seasonalallergies.org and I would like to say that I was very surprised.
Over years, I have seen many different articles in the field of allergy, but these articles were very interesting.
These articles were really unique, they could help many people around the world to know more about seasonal allergy, symptoms, prevention and when to seek medical advice.
These articles represent an addition in the field of Health Education not only for people with allergy but also for the whole population.
Last Updated on January 19, 2021