An allergy is defined as an atypical reaction of the body’s immune system to a certain substance when it is present in the individual’s immediate environment. These substances are known as allergens, and can cause a range of allergic reactions that can be measured on a spectrum of mild to potentially fatal! Find out about all the common allergies prevalent.
The Agony of Allergic Reactions
They swoop down upon you without warning. One minute you’re perfectly fine going about your normal business like you do every day, and the next minute you find yourself wheezing, coughing, sneezing, covered with ugly skin rashes, and wanting to scratch your skin off due to the incessant itchiness. With allergic reactions there is no telling when the next one chooses to toy around with your system, leaving you grappling for anything that will soothe the symptoms and alleviate the allergy. Before you curse your luck and drown your sorrows in an unending supply of comfort food, rest assured that you are not battling with these allergens alone. A whopping one fifth of the American population suffers from at least one allergy! Let’s take a look at the major and most common allergies present in the American environment to narrow down which substances cause the most allergic reactions in the United States. Your defense against these bothersome common allergies is to keep your surroundings clean at all times. You can also refer to your doctor for a suitable anti-allergy medication to control your symptoms as soon as they become prominent. And if the allergy seems to be spiraling out of control head straight for the nearest emergency medical center without delay!
Common Allergy # 1- Food
As heartbreaking as it is for all the foodies reading this article, certain foods can trigger an allergic reaction when consumed by individuals who are susceptible to the allergen. While most of the food related allergies are uncovered during your growing years when your parents try to expose you to a varied diet, others might surface later on in life. The inside story is that the immune system considers that particular food (peanuts or wheat for instance) as a hostile foreign body and stimulates the release of histamine which activates the allergic reaction. You can use a food intolerance kit to find out which foods are compatible with your system and which ones you should avoid.
Once you have identified your food related allergy, make it a point to avoid all food items that could possible contain even traces of that food. People allergic to wheat can consider the option of a gluten-free diet, while those allergic to milk can obtain calcium and other nutrients from other sources.
Common Allergy # 2- Pollen
Pollen is one of the more widely recognized allergens primarily because a majority of allergic reactions in the United States are reportedly due to the presence of pollen in the air. Pollen is produced and released into the air by trees, flowering plants and grass. The mass proliferation of pollen into the air makes it very easy for pollen sensitive individuals to inhale it and set off an allergic reaction. While pollen season can largely be traced to spring and autumn, pollen sensitive individuals should watch out for pollen induced reactions in winter too.
To avoid Pollen allergies avoid staying outdoors when high levels of pollen are in the air. Wear a dust mask or a pollen mask to prevent inhalation of pollen. Avoid hanging your laundry outdoors so that pollen does not get trapped in the clothes. Lastly, if the pollen reaction is extremely severe, you should consider the option of moving away from that area.
Common Allergy # 3- Medicine
Before taking a new medication it is very difficult to ascertain whether your body will react positively or negatively to the components of that drug. If your immune system is not receptive to the substances present in the drug, those substances will become allergens for your system and you will break out into an allergic reaction.
The first and foremost thing to do is to stop taking the medicine as soon as you are aware that you are allergic to it. Next, consult your doctor who will give you an alternative medicine, or will try to isolate the substance that caused the reaction.
Common Allergy # 4- Animal Hair
Your chubby Persian cat and furry Yorkshire terrier may be the joys of your life, but the protein in the natural hair oil secreted by the animals has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, allergic reactions to animal hair can develop over time, so pet owners should watch out for tell tale signs of a developing allergic condition.
There are several steps that can be undertaken to keep pet allergies under control. These include vacuuming carpets daily, washing and brushing your pets at least once a week, prohibiting the animals from entering into your bedroom, stopping them from jumping onto furniture, and keeping the litter box in an isolated location.
Common Allergy # 5- Mold
Consider yourself lucky if the sight of mold simply makes you wrinkle your nose in disgust. For other people, this feeling of revulsion is accompanied by an allergic outbreak. Mold spreads in a similar fashion as pollen, and can trigger a reaction if a mold sensitive individual touches or inhales mold spores.
Consult your health practitioner for suitable medications to ease the symptoms of your mold allergy. The prescription might recommend nasal corticosteroids, decongestants, antihistamines, immunotherapy, and naval lavage.
Common Allergy # 6- Insect Bites
The bite or sting of an insect can infiltrate the skin with substances that can cause allergic reactions in vulnerable individuals. The symptoms may be limited to itching or swelling, or might escalate to become potentially fatal. In such a situation, emergency medical attention should be availed immediately.
You can alleviate insect bite symptoms by washing the affected area thoroughly and applying an antiseptic. You can also take an oral antihistamine to relieve the symptoms. Severe allergic reactions will require emergency medical attention.
Common Allergy # 7- Latex
The core raw material that is used to manufacture latex is rubber tree sap. This sap contains certain protein substances that can act as allergens for certain individuals and can generate an allergic reaction the second contact is made.
Patients who are aware of their reaction to latex should inform their doctors beforehand since several items used by health practitioners are essentially latex based. If the allergic reaction becomes too severe seek medical attention. Your health practitioner will most probably give you an injection of epinephrine.
Common Allergy # 8- Perfume
It doesn’t matter how divine a scent is, some people just cannot bear the smell of perfume. It might be difficult to accept that anybody could find perfumes repugnant, but unfortunately for perfume-sensitive individuals, the mere smell of perfume irritates the lining of their noses and causes an outbreak.
Your first line of defense is to limit your exposure to perfumes. This will of course be difficult to achieve, but you must make adjustments to accommodate your allergic reaction. Alternatively you could try using an air purifier or a portable fan to diffuse the smell.
Common Allergy # 9- Cockroaches
The mere sight of this creepy crawly elicits shrieks and screams without fail. But for some people the ordeal doesn’t end there. Cockroach faeces contain proteins that can act as allergens and cause a skin related outbreak.
You can follow a three step approach to minimizing your cockroach allergies. This includes avoiding the creepy crawlies by being meticulously clean, taking the relevant prescribed medication, and using immunotherapy if needed.
Common Allergy # 10- Dust Mites
Dust mites are tiny, microscopic organisms that thrive in the dust that collects in your home or workplace. Dust mite faeces contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals.
Even though it is impossible to ensure the complete elimination of dust mites, exposure to dust mite allergies can be largely minimized by keeping your surroundings dust free. Once the allergy sets in however, you can use any of the following (prescribed) medications which include antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, cromolyn sodium, and nasal lavage.