What Can You Do About Environmental Allergies?
- 7.7% of adults and 7.2% of children are diagnosed with hay fever in North America.
- Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
- More than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year.
- Allergic conditions are one of the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.
The first step in understanding environmental allergies is recognizing that there is no cure, at least not exactly. Currently, you can utilize numerous treatments to manage the symptoms for better living. For example, over-the-counter antihistamines are sometimes enough for those with mild allergies to make allergy symptoms tolerable. But not all treatments are created equal. Those with more severe reactions may require more potent medication.
Learning your specific allergy helps determine the optimal treatment. An environmental allergy test panel is an intelligent way to skip the painstaking trial-and-error process of finding a solution. The results will provide valuable insight to inform your decisions about symptom management.
What is an allergy? What’s happening in your body when you have an allergic reaction?
The function of your immune system is to rid the body of potentially harmful foreign elements. An allergy is when your immune system over-reacts to a particular substance, called an allergen. An allergen can be something you eat, inhale, inject, or touch.
What’s the difference between environmental allergies and other types?
There are a few different categories of allergies.
● Drug allergies: Many drug reactions are not allergic but rather a side-effect of the drug itself. True drug allergies affect roughly 10& of the population (the most common being penicillin).
● Food allergies: Food allergies are sometimes confused with food intolerances. Still, both are nearly always caused by something a person has voluntarily ingested. Eight food types cause most food allergy reactions, which will affect 10.8% of the U.S. population at some point in their lives. These foods are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. If you think you have a food allergy, get tested at GenesisMedicalDiagnostics.com.
● Latex allergies: Balloons, condoms, and other natural rubber products contain latex, a moderately common allergen posing a legitimate health risk. About 4.3% of the general population has a latex allergy, though certain occupations exhibit higher rates (approximately 9.7% of health care workers develop a latex allergy).
● Environmental allergies: Environmental allergies are the most common type and often the most difficult to avoid.
- Insect allergies: People with insect allergies are often allergic to bee or wasp stings and poisonous ant bites. Insect sting allergies affect about 5% of the population and cause 90-100 deaths each year in the U.S. due to anaphylaxis. Contact with cockroaches or dust mites may also cause nasal or skin irritation.
- Mold allergies: Breathing in mold spores is harmful even to those without allergies. Mold allergies correlate to asthma, and exposure can cause restricted breathing and other respiratory difficulties.
- Animal dander allergies: Cats, dogs, and rodents shed hair and skin flakes that are at least mildly allergenic to up to 33% of people.
- Tree, grass, and weed allergies: Allergic rhinitis, often called hay fever, affects approximately 13.4% of people and can be challenging to escape.
- Plant allergies: Despite popular belief, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are not allergens to all people. Some 15% of adults are not affected by these common skin allergy triggers, which typically cause a combination of skin inflammation, eczema, or hives after contact.
What are the symptoms of environmental allergies?
Common reactions include:
● Coughing or sneezing
● Hives or rashes
● Itchy eyes
● Runny nose
● Scratchy throat
More severe reactions include:
● Low blood pressure
● Impaired breathing or asthma attacks
● Anaphylactic shock
Does allergy testing work?
The Skin Prick Test (SPT) was once the standard procedure for allergy testing. It involves pricking your skin with a small amount of a substance, and waiting to see what happens. If you’re allergic to the substance, a bump with a red ring around it will manifest. It’s not a pleasant experience to be repeatedly poked with needles until an itchy bump appears. Moreover, according to foodallergy.org, about 50-60 percent of SPT tests yield “false positive” results.
In contrast, an environmental allergy blood panel is a straightforward blood test that measures the concentration of allergen-specific antibodies. These antibodies are your immune system’s response to allergens. They are ultimately the determining factor in whether or not you exhibit symptoms.
Why should you get an environmental allergy test?
The main reason to get an environmental allergy test is to identify the specific cause of your allergy. Having a vague idea of the culprit is useful, but knowing the exact allergen is ideal for deciding how to manage it. Naturally, different treatments are suitable for different allergies. It’s a mistake to assume that over-the-counter antihistamines are all the same, or that they are your only option. You may be
suffering needlessly. The markers of a proper blood test will provide beneficial information in choosing your strategy for alleviating allergy symptoms.
End the torment, find out what’s what, and how to deal with it!