Speaking of Allergies

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017

Speaking of Allergies

This picture of creek goldenrod taken near Goat Lake in Washington makes me want to sneeze. How about you?

What kind of allergies do you have? Hay fever, eczema and asthma are the leading allergic disorders, and all three frequently occur in the same people. This is the so-called “allergic triad.” The manifestations of allergies are varied, however, and may include the following conditions.

Hay Fever
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever. In this condition, your body’s response to allergenic substances causes chronic inflammation of the mucous membranes inside your nose. Subsequent exposure to pollens, dust, dander or other allergens can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip, cough, and tearing eyes. Other signs include fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and poor appetite. The condition can occur seasonally or year-round. Many of my patients with allergic rhinitis have perennial symptoms that get worse in the spring, and sometimes in the fall.

Allergic Sinus Problems
If you have allergic rhinitis, you likely have similar inflammatory changes in the linings of your sinuses. Research indicates that the sinus inflammation occurs chronically, just like it does in the nasal passages during hay fever. The medical term for this condition is “allergic rhinosinusitis.” Symptoms of the ailment, which may occur upon exposure to allergy-causing substances, include sinus fullness or pressure and post-nasal drip.

Eczema
Also known as atopic dermatitis, the allergic condition consists of itching and inflammation of your skin. Rashes most commonly appear on your hands and feet, front of your arms, and behind your knees. Eczema may also occur on your ankles, wrists, face, neck and upper chest. A viscous cycle of itching and scratching can lead to chronic skin problems such as thickening, cracking or scaling.

Allergic Asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung condition in which your airways constrict and dilate and produce extra mucus. The characteristic symptoms consist of coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. Asthma usually starts and stops in a reversible pattern that waxes and wanes. Considerable variability exists from person to person in the triggers that touch off asthma. Viral infections, cold air, pollutants, physical activity and stress are common inflammatory triggers. Additionally, if you have allergic asthma, you may react to allergy-causing agents such as pollen, animal dander, mold or certain foods.

Eye Allergies
Allergies of the eyes are referred to medically as allergic conjunctivitis. The tell-tale signs of itchy, watery, and red or swollen eyes can occur acutely, seasonally or year-round. Eye allergies can happen alone or be part of the symptom complex of hay fever.

Food Allergies
Allergies to food arise when your body’s immune system reacts abnormally to food constituents such as protein. The eight main groups of foods that trigger food allergies are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. These eight groups account for over 90 percent of food allergies in the U.S., and represent the foods most likely to cause serious reactions.

Symptoms of food allergy usually appear within 24 hours after you eat a food and can range from mild to life threatening. Prolonged effects may last for two to three days, or occasionally longer, after a reaction. The symptoms of food allergy may affect many different areas of your body. A large range of symptoms are possible.

For more information: Allergy Guide: Alternative & Conventional Solutions by Elizabeth Smoots, MD, www.drsmoots.com/books

This post is written by Elizabeth S. Smoots, MD. Dr. Smoots’ blog is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Before adhering to any recommendations in this blog consult your healthcare provider. ©2012 Elizabeth S. Smoots, MD, LLC.
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