Allergies: Common Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Allergies are one of the most common health complications in the United States, with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reporting that about 50 million people in the United States suffer from nasal allergies alone, which does not include skin allergies, food allergies, or eye allergies. Consider these common causes of allergies, symptoms, and treatment options.

Common Causes of Allergies

The number of things that people can be allergic to is vast. However, some of the most common sources of allergies include:

  • Hay fever (pollen allergy);
  • Food allergies, including milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, grains, wheat, fish, and shellfish;
  • Insect allergies, such as allergy to bees;
  • Pet hair/animal dander;
  • Drug allergies, commonly penicillin, sulfa drugs, NSAIDs, and anticonvulsants.

In addition to the above, some people may have allergic reactions to certain household products, such as cleaners, soaps, or deodorants.

Symptoms of Allergies

The symptoms of allergies depend both on the type and source of allergy as well as the individual’s personal reaction. Some common symptoms might include:

  • Runny nose;
  • Itchy eyes;
  • Sore throat;
  • Hives or skin rash; and
  • Large area of swelling.

Keep in mind that you can be tested for certain allergies by your doctor. Depending on the severity of your allergic reactions, you may be able to take over the counter medications to counter the symptoms.

Some allergic reactions are very severe, and may trigger a reaction called anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening medical emergency and many individuals have to care what is known as an EpiPen® (epinephrine injection). The prescription product comes with very specific instructions and keep in mind that you may need to seek further medical care even after an injection.

Some people seem to outgrow childhood allergies but develop different allergies in adulthood. These changes should not be taken lightly and you should always inform your healthcare provider of any changes. It is also important to always let your doctor(s) know what medication(s) you are taking so that they can prescribe the correct medicines for you. You do not want any harmful drug and medication interactions.

Allergy Treatment

For those who suffer from certain allergies, the best thing that can be done is to avoid coming in contact with the source of allergy. For example, a person who is allergic to cats or peanuts should keep a safe distance from these things.

Some allergies, such as hay fever, are much harder to avoid, as pollen during the spring can be nearly impossible to evade. There are both natural remedies and medical remedies that can be pursued to help, such as using a neti pot, eating local honey, and taking probiotics, as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications.

If you think that you have allergies, the best thing to do is to get an official diagnosis from a medical professional, who can also advise you regarding treatment options. Even with a prescription, it is always smart to ask questions and to read the label instructions. Never take another person’s prescribed medication as you could encounter serious problems.