Allergies are really bad: Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud
Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud
Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud
Relieve seasonal allergies with these tried-and-true techniques.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Spring means flower buds and blooming trees — and if you’re one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and other bothersome symptoms. Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable. But before you settle for plastic flowers and artificial turf, try these simple strategies to keep seasonal allergies under control.
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers
To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
- Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
- Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Don’t hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
- Wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores.
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high
Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:
- Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
- If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
- Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
- Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
Keep indoor air clean
There’s no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:
- Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
- If you have forced air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
- Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
- Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
- Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Try an over-the-counter remedy
Several types of nonprescription medications can help ease allergy symptoms. They include:
- Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
- Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
- Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and doesn’t have serious side effects, though it’s most effective when you begin using it before your symptoms start.
- Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).
Rinse your sinuses
Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.
Look for a squeeze bottle or a neti pot — a small container with a spout designed for nasal rinsing — at your pharmacy or health food store. Use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make up the saline irrigation solution. Also be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry.
Interested in alternative treatments? Consider these
A number of natural remedies have been used to treat hay fever symptoms. Treatments that may help include extracts of the shrub butterbur and spirulina (a type of dried algae). However, the benefits and safety aren’t clear.
Some people claim acupuncture can help with seasonal allergy symptoms. There’s some evidence that acupuncture works, and there’s little evidence of harm.
Talk to your doctor before trying alternative treatments.
When home remedies aren’t enough, see your doctor
For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, don’t give up. A number of other treatments are available.
If you have bad seasonal allergies, your doctor may recommend that you have skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you.
For some people, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) can be a good option. Also known as desensitization, this treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Over time, these injections reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms. For some allergies, treatment can be given as tablets under the tongue.
April 16, 2020
- Outdoor allergens. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/outdoor-allergens. Accessed May 3, 2018.
- Allergy-friendly gardening. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/allergy-friendly-gardening. Accessed May 3, 2018.
- Indoor allergens. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/indoor-allergens. Accessed May 3, 2018.
- Allergies and hay fever. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/allergies-and-hay-fever. Accessed May 3, 2018.
- de Shazo RD, et al. Pharmacotherapy of allergic rhinitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 3, 2018.
- Seidman MD, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. 2015;152:S1.
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Why Are My Allergies so Bad This Season? – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
Q: Why are my allergies worse than usual this spring? Is there something extra in the air?
A. Actually, there is extra pollen in the air this year.
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For certain parts of the Midwest, including Northeast Ohio, the allergy seasons unfold in a predictable fashion. Tree pollen season is usually at the beginning of spring in March, April, and the first half of May while the grass pollen season is typically mid-May through early-to-mid-July.
This spring, though, there was quite a bit of precipitation and unseasonably cold weather, such that there was even snow on the ground in May in some areas. So the cooler temperatures meant the trees weren’t pollinating at their usual time. Instead, that late peak got pushed back a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the usual peak of the grass pollen season is Memorial Day weekend meaning, this year, the grass and tree pollen peaks overlapped, a kind of “double hit” for those who are allergic to both.
For management of these symptoms, the best recommendation is avoidance measures combined with regular medication. It’s important for patients to be taking medication on a regular basis every day whether they think they need it or not. Usually, we recommend that people front-end the pollen season and begin taking medication early in the season or better yet before the season starts.
It’s also important that you keep the windows in your car and home closed with the air conditioning on. This can help cut down the indoor pollen counts by 90% or more. And sleeping with the windows closed is also key because a peak for pollen release is between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. as sunlight is a stimulus for some plants to release pollen.
— Allergist David Lang, MD
4 Reasons Your Allergies Are Getting Worse
Whether you have the runny nose and itchy eyes to prove it or you just know someone who does, there’s an overarching theme among sufferers that allergy season seems to just keep getting worse.
The good news: You’re not imagining it. The bad news: You’re not imagining it. Allergies really can get worse over time, and there are some big-picture reasons why. No matter what’s aggravating your symptoms, you can put these helpful solutions to good use. And in the meantime, here are a few reasons you might be facing even more sneezes than usual. (Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day liver detox for total body health.)
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Worsening allergies is one of the many dangers of our planet’s temp steadily rising. “Pollen seasons are becoming longer and more potent,” says Allergy & Asthma Network allergist Purvi Parikh, MD. “Plants use the higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air to create almost ‘superpollinators,'” she says. “That makes allergy seasons start earlier and end later.”
Wacky temperature swings can make allergies worse, too. Typically, if plants are covered in frost in November, there wouldn’t be pollen in the air until the following March or so, Parikh explains. But with 60-degree days in January more common than ever before, plants may start producing pollen when it’s not technically springtime yet, triggering allergies in the process. Even if no pollen is in the air during the winter, a drastic change in the weather can result in allergy-like symptoms anyway, Parikh adds. “If it’s 65 degrees Thursday and drops to the 30s over the weekend, that can cause vasomotor rhinitis, which almost mimics allergic rhinitis with its congestion and sinus pressure,” she says. “Extremes in temperature can result in inflammation inside the nose the same way as with an allergen. “
MORE: Is Climate Change Making You Sick?
Maybe you moved to a smoggy city recently or your area’s air quality has grown particularly poor. “Ironically, allergies are worse in cities than in the suburbs because of air pollution and higher levels of ozone,” Parikh says, even though people in the suburbs may be exposed to more plant allergens. Even within the same city, your allergies might get worse just because you moved to a neighborhood closer to the busiest roadways. (Allergies making you feel fatigued? Here are 7 other reasons you’re tired all the time.)
Add chronic stress to the mix and allergies can feel like the end of the world. “Stress creates inflammation and can make the body hypersensitive to allergens,” Parikh says. Stress can also produce some of the very same symptoms as allergies, like headaches or quickened breathing, essentially doubling up the discomfort.
MORE: 4 One-Minute Stress Tips
What if you’ve lived in your same smoggy city or on your same tree-lined suburban street for years and only now developed an allergic reaction? Allergies may simply worsen with age because you’ve been exposed to the triggers longer, Parikh says. “It takes repeated exposure to develop allergies. It can take a while for the immune system to decide it doesn’t like that allergen.”
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Seasonal Allergies: 4 Routes to Relief
Ah, fall. The perfect time to get outside for long walks in the neighborhood, hikes in the hills, and autumn gardening.
But that “ah” can quickly become “ah-choo” if you’re one of the 36 million Americans with seasonal allergy problems. The runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion — all typical fall allergy symptoms — can slow you down and make you miserable.
While there have been no dramatic advances recently in allergy treatment, experts say if you are allergy-prone, you can take a number of steps to minimize the misery.
1. Know Your Allergy Triggers
Triggers, or allergens, can vary by region of the country, but two main culprits are to blame for many fall seasonal allergy problems, experts say.
- Ragweed and other weed pollens. Ragweed is a stubborn plant and grows easily in fields, along roadsides, and in vacant lots. A plant can produce a billion pollen grains in a season, and the grains can travel up to 400 miles because they are so lightweight.
- Molds. Outdoor molds grow in heavy vegetation, hay and straw, and are found in raked leaves. Outdoor molds increase after rain, too.
Predicting how bad an allergy season will be is an inexact science, but there are some general links with weather, says Gary Rachelefsky, MD, a staff allergist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. “Usually when there is more rain, there is more pollen,” he says. Outdoor mold can increase, too, with more moisture. So if you live in an area struck by flooding or heavy rains in the spring or summer, you can probably expect a worse-than-usual allergy season.
2. Learn Do-It-Yourself Measures
It may sound obvious, but avoiding the allergens is the No.1 measure suggested by allergy experts. There are many steps you can take to eliminate or minimize your exposure to allergens and improve seasonal allergy symptoms. Among the often-cited measures:
- Wear a protective mask when gardening or doing yard work.
- Modify the indoor environment to keep out allergens, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, vice chairman of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. For instance, use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in air conditioners to better trap pollen spores. “Change air condition filters often,” he says.
- Check pollen counts before you travel. “If you are traveling with allergies, consider vacations near the ocean or bays,” Bassett says. “Pollen counts there are typically lower.” To find pollen counts, contact the National Allergy Bureau (www.aaaai.org/nab), which offers reports to the public. Or check your local weather report; some provide pollen and mold spore counts.
- Protect your eyes. On vacation and at home, wear sunglasses when outdoors to reduce the amount of pollen coming into the eyes, Bassett suggests.
- “Wash your hair at the end of the day to wash out pollens,” Bassett suggests. That will help avoid pollen transfer to the pillowcase.
- Exercise in the morning or late in the day, Bassett says, when pollen counts are typically lower than at other hours. Know that pollen counts typically are higher on a hot, windy, sunny day compared with a cool day without much wind.
- Check the dog. “Pets can bring in pollen,” says Pamela Georgeson, DO, member of the AAAAI Public Education committee and an allergist in Chesterfield Township, Mich. You might consider rinsing off the dog if it were outside on a high-pollen day, she says.
3. Get Proper Treatment
An allergist or your primary care doctor can recommend a variety of medications, some over-the-counter and some needing a prescription, to improve your seasonal allergies. Many are approved for use in children. A home remedy, nasal lavage, may help, too.
Topical nasal sprays, available by prescription, work well, says Georgeson. “They actually reduce the inflammation in the lining of the nose,” she says. Examples are Flonase and Nasonex. They contain medications called corticosteroids, which work by reducing inflammation and are “minimally if at all absorbed,” she says. The sprays are typically used daily, before and during allergy season.
Oral antihistamines are another option. Some, such as Allegra and Claritin (and generic loratadine), are now over the counter, Georgeson says, while others, such as Zyrtec and Clarinex, are by prescription.
A newer option is Astelin, a nasal spray antihistamine.
Antihistamines are often recommended along with topical nasal corticosteroids, Georgeson says. Antihistamines work by preventing more histamine (a chemical released during an allergic reaction) from being released.
Prescription eye drops can help itchy eyes.
Another option is the medication Singulair, also used to treat asthma, which works by blocking leukotrienes, substances which help cause allergy symptoms.
Nasal irrigation or lavage may help, too.
Many over-the-counter allergy options contain a combination of drug ingredients that may include a decongestant. Decongestants may elevate blood pressure and heart rate, so check in with your doctor to make sure that it is OK for you to take these.
A longer-term solution is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Tiny amounts of the allergen are injected over time, provoking an antibody response. “It actually changes a person’s immune system,” Georgeson says. But it takes time. “Generally most physicians will treat from three to five years,” she says.
“Allergy injections are used more often in adults than kids,” says Ronald Ferdman, MD, attending physician at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. “Allergies change in kids. They could get worse or better, and they could get sensitive to different allergens. Most of the time they get worse.”
Under development is “sublingual” allergy therapy, says Bassett. Tiny amounts of the allergen are placed under the tongue, using the same concept as the allergy shots but with a different and more convenient delivery system.
4. Beware of Foods That Trigger Your Symptoms
If you have seasonal allergies to ragweed, be aware that eating certain foods may trigger your symptoms. “This is the concept of oral allergy syndrome,” Bassett says.
It’s a double-whammy, he says. About one-third of people with fall seasonal allergies will have a cross-reaction to certain foods, he says. Foods that might provoke symptoms in those with ragweed allergies, according to AAAAI, include bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, and chamomile tea.
Everything You Need to Know About Allergy Relief
If you have an allergy, welcome to the club. About 50 million Americans — or more than 1 in 6 people — are allergic to pollen, food, pets, medications, and more. Learn about your allergy, including how to recognize symptoms, avoid allergy triggers, and most importantly, how to find relief.
What causes allergies?
Blame your allergies on something called allergens. When people with allergies come in contact with an allergen, like pet dander, pollen, mold, or dust, their immune system reacts. It thinks that allergen is harmful and responds by creating inflammation in your skin, sinuses, airways, or digestive system. That triggers symptoms like itching, sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes.
Who’s most at risk for developing allergies?
Allergies affect men and women of all ages, and you can develop an allergy at any time. You may even find yourself suddenly allergic to something that never bothered you before. Experts aren’t sure why some people have allergies and others don’t, but there seems to be a family connection. People with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop them. So if you have allergies, your children will most likely have them, too.
How do I know if I have allergies?
If you always sneeze when you pet a cat or feel sniffly at the start of spring, you could have an allergy. But how do you know for sure? The best way to find out is to see your doctor or an allergist. They will ask about your medical history, do a physical exam, and run tests.
You can help your doctor give you the right diagnosis:
- Make a list of your symptoms. Based on these, your doctor may be able to rule out other causes like a cold, virus, or other illness.
- Track the timing. If you’re sneezing for a few weeks every few months, or if your symptoms are particularly bad in the morning, this may be another clue that you have allergies. Do symptoms happen around certain animals?
- Note anything new. Are you using a new detergent? Did you change your skin care routine? Pay attention to any changes in your diet and lifestyle. They may help your doctor find what’s triggering your symptoms.
How do I know if I have a cold or allergies?
The symptoms are so similar that you might get them confused. Here’s how to tell the difference:
Runny, itchy, or stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, watery or itchy eyes. Itchy skin or hives.
|Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing. You could also have a sore throat, body aches, and fever. Watery eyes are rare.|
|When symptoms start||Begin shortly after being exposed to an allergen.||Usually develop over several days.|
|How long symptoms last||Could last a long time, as long as you’re exposed to your allergen.||
Symptoms tend to clear up within a few days.
What is hay fever?
Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is the most common type of allergy. It can be seasonal, meaning it only happens at certain times of the year (mostly in the spring or fall), or year-round. Symptoms include stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy throat and can range from mild to severe.
- Seasonal: If you have seasonal hay fever, you are probably allergic to something outdoors, like mold or pollen. Ragweed is to blame for 75% of hay fever. Where you live can play a factor in how and when you react. Mold, for example, reaches its peak in July in warm states and October in cold states, but it can be found year-round in the South and on the West Coast.
- Year-round: If you have year-round hay fever, you are probably allergic to something indoors, such as dust mites, mold, cockroaches, or pet dander.
What can I do to reduce allergens in my home?
- Take care when cleaning. Vacuuming and dusting can stir up dust, which can trigger an allergic reaction. To avoid this, wear a mask when cleaning. If possible, leave your home for a few hours after cleaning to avoid allergens you’ve stirred up. Also, make sure that your vacuum has a HEPA filter or special double filter bags to catch dust.
- Cut down on dander. Keep pets out of the bedroom. Vacuum carpets frequently, and replace carpet with hardwood, tile, or linoleum.
- Keep dust mites at bay. These little critters thrive in bedding, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. Use allergen-proof covers on mattresses, box springs, and pillows. Zippered plastic covers also work. Wash bedding weekly in hot water (130 F) and dry in a hot dryer to kill dust mites. Keep humidity levels low in your house by using air conditioning or a dehumidifier. Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with flooring.
- Get a grip on mold. Get rid of mold in your house by using water and detergent. In some cases, you can use a 5% bleach solution, but don’t mix it with other cleaners. Repair indoor or outdoor leaks. Use a dehumidifier, and clean it often.
- Keep pollen out. Use an air filter in your house to eliminate pollen from the air, and clean your home regularly. Use the air conditioner, and change the filter often. Also, keep windows and doors in your home closed.
What can I do to protect myself from outdoor allergens?
You don’t have to stay indoors round the clock, there are some precautions you can take:
- Avoid going out when allergens are at their peak, usually between 10 a. m. and 4 p.m.
- Check the allergy forecast (download an allergy forecast app or visit a weather web site that tracks allergens) and stay indoors when pollen and mold counts are high or the wind is gusting, which could kick up dust and pollen.
- Consider wearing a facemask when you’re outside to limit how much pollen you breathe in.
- Wear a baseball cap during pollen season and leave it at the door when you come back inside.
- Avoid tracking pollen in your home by leaving your shoes at the door, changing your clothes, and showering and washing your hair immediately after going inside. Pets can bring in pollen, too. So keep your cat or dog out of the bedroom.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
- Roll up the car windows and use the air conditioner when you drive.
- Have someone else do the yard work.
What does treatment for allergies involve?
There’s no cure for allergies, but there are many treatments available. You can avoid your allergens as much as possible, take medications, use alternative treatments, and try immunotherapy, also called allergy shots.
What medications can help my symptoms?
There are many medications that can help you gain control over your allergy symptoms. Some are available over the counter, while others need a prescription. Work with your doctor or pharmacist to find out which medication is best for you.
Here are some of the most common:
Steroid Nasal Sprays
This medication is usually a doctor’s first choice for allergy treatment. These sprays reduce swelling in the nasal passages and prevent and treat runny, stuffy noses, sneezing, and itching.
While steroids are effective for allergies, they must be taken regularly, often daily, even when you aren’t feeling allergy symptoms.
Side effects may include bloody nose and nasal irritation.
When you come in contact with allergens, your body releases histamines, which bring on sneezing, itching, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Antihistamines block this response.
One of the most common medicines used for allergies, antihistamines are available over the counter and by prescription.
They come in different forms, including liquids, pills, and nasal sprays. They help relieve rashes, hives, sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Some may make you sleepy, so don’t take them if you need to drive. Check with your pharmacist for advice on nondrowsy antihistamines and ones that work for longer periods of time.
Another popular way to treat allergies is with a decongestant. These reduce swelling and can help with stuffiness. They come in nasal sprays, eyedrops, liquids, and pills and are available over the counter and with a prescription.
The only over-the-counter decongestants in pill form are phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Though it doesn’t require a prescription, pseudoephedrine is stocked behind the pharmacy counter. You will have to ask your pharmacist for it.
Nasal spray and eyedrop decongestants should be used for only a few days at a time. Using them for longer can make your symptoms come back worse.
You shouldn’t take decongestants if you have blood pressure or heart problems, thyroid disease, diabetes, or prostate problems unless your doctor says you can.
Most people don’t have side effects. Rarely, you may have headaches, trouble sleeping, and feel irritable when you take them.
This is also called allergy immunotherapy and is only available from your doctor. The shots can help your body get used to your allergens. It can’t cure your allergies, but your symptoms can get better for a long time, and you may have fewer allergic reactions. Allergy shots have to be taken every few days to weeks for several months. They are a good option for people with hay fever or pet allergies when other medications haven’t worked.
Side effects include redness, swelling, or irritation around the site of the injection.
These are like allergy shots without the injections. Instead, a small dose of your allergen is given as a tablet that you hold under your tongue for a couple of minutes before swallowing it. It helps boost your tolerance for an allergen and improves your symptoms. This is a newer therapy, so not all allergens are covered.
Your doctor will prescribe the tablets. At first, you’ll take them in the office, but eventually you can take them at home.
Side effects tend to be mild and include itching in the mouth and stomach problems.
You’ll need to keep an epinephrine auto-injector handy in case you have a severe reaction. Auto-injectors are syringes loaded with medication that can help stop a severe allergic reaction and are small enough to carry with you at all times.
Can I use these treatments together?
Some of these treatments can be used together. Antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, for example, are often taken together. Always read medication labels and check with your doctor or pharmacist before you combine them. Some medications can interact with others and make side effects worse.
How can I reduce side effects from medication?
Follow a few simple strategies to manage side effects:
- Follow the directions. Read medication labels and instructions carefully to know when, how much, and how often to take your medication, and whether it should be taken with food.
- List all your meds. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all of the medications you’re taking, including supplements and over-the-counter drugs.
- Mention past problems. Tell your doctor if you’ve had any problems or unpleasant side effects from past medications. That will help your doctor decide which medications you should — and shouldn’t — take.
- Limit alcohol. If you’re taking antihistamines, don’t drink alcohol. It can increase side effects like drowsiness or even make you sick.
What are some ways I can treat my allergies without medicine?
You might have heard that there are ways to get relief from your allergy symptoms without taking medication. Here are some that may work for your allergies:
Acupuncture: With this technique, tiny needles are inserted into your skin, which may help people with mild hay fever by quieting the parts of the immune system that trigger allergic reactions.
Herbal supplements: Experts aren’t sure that taking supplements like bee pollen, butterbur, or goldenseal can help allergies. If you decide to try them, use caution. Some of the plants used to make supplements are distant cousins to ragweed. So if you are allergic to ragweed, some supplements may make your symptoms worse. It’s best to talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
Nasal irrigation: Pour a saline solution into one nostril and let it flow out the other to wash out mucus and allergens. All you need is a bulb syringe or neti pot and the saline solution. Make sure you always use distilled or sterile water, boiled and cooled tap water, or water passed through a special filter.
What’s the best way to treat my child’s allergy symptoms?
Children’s allergies are often confused with other conditions like ear, nose, and throat infections. If you don’t know what’s causing your child to sneeze or wheeze, see your pediatrician or allergist. They will examine your child to find the cause of the symptoms and suggest treatments.
When pollen counts are highest, consider limiting your child’s time outdoors. In late summer and early fall, that’s usually in the morning. In spring and summer, evenings are particularly bad. Have your child wear a baseball cap outside, and when they come in, have them change their clothes and wash their face (including eyebrows and nostrils). They should be bathing and washing their hair every day during high pollen seasons. And follow the same advice for adults for protecting your home from indoor and outdoor allergens.
Medications can also help. But remember that treating children is different from treating adults. If your child’s symptoms aren’t responding to over-the-counter medicine recommended by your pharmacist, make an appointment with your pediatrician to see if other treatments like prescription medications and allergy immunotherapy might help.
Can I use adult allergy medicine for my child?
It depends on their age. Only give medication to your child that is clearly labeled for their age group.
There are a few over-the-counter and prescription medications that are OK for children as young as 6 months old. You’ll need to know the child’s age and weight to calculate the correct dose to give.
Your pediatrician or pharmacist can help you figure out which medications and how much, if any, are best for your child.
What are some other types of allergies?
Drug allergies. People with allergies to certain medications (like antibiotics, aspirin, and ibuprofen) will have a reaction like a skin rash, itching, wheezing, swelling, even trouble breathing after taking them. Antihistamines may be able to control some symptoms, but you may also need an epinephrine auto-injector. Avoiding the medication is crucial.
Contact dermatitis. When your skin comes in direct contact with something you’re allergic to, like perfumes, dyes, metals, or latex, you may notice a rash, blisters, itching, and burning. It’s important to identify your allergen so you can avoid it.
Medicated lotions and creams such as calamine lotion and cortisone cream can help with rashes and are available over the counter. Antihistamines can help with itching.
Eczema. Eczema is a chronic inflammation of the skin, resulting in itchy red patches. It can be seen in people with allergies (hay fever) and asthma, in which case it is called atopic dermatitis. It can be triggered by certain foods, pet dander, dust mites, sweating, or coming in contact with something irritating, like wool. Besides avoiding your allergens, the key is moisturizing your skin and not scratching the rash. Creams, lotions, and ointments, including some with steroids and other medications, can help treat and prevent flare-ups.
Insect allergies. Stinging insects like bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire and harvest ants can cause a variety of allergic reactions, including pain, itching, and swelling around the bite or sting. Mosquito bites can also cause a mild reaction with a small itchy welt.
Treat stings and bites with ice or a cool washcloth to stop swelling. Calamine lotion or baking soda mixed with water can help relieve the pain. Use a spray or cream containing hydrocortisone or antihistamine for itching.
In some people, stings can lead to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, which should be treated immediately with an epinephrine auto-injector and then by calling 911. Allergy shots may be helpful for people with insect allergies.
Food allergies. Eight foods cause 90% of food allergies: Milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Reactions tend to happen more in young children than adults. Fortunately, some children will outgrow them. Symptoms usually appear within a few minutes to 2 hours of eating the food and can be mild, like a rash, itching, or swelling, or life-threatening, like trouble breathing and swelling of the throat or tongue.
Life-threatening reactions should be treated immediately with an epinephrine auto-injector. Then call 911. Do not hesitate to use the auto-injector even if you aren’t sure your symptoms are related to an allergy.
What Is Perennial Allergic Rhinitis?
Perennial allergic rhinitis is a chronic allergic condition that doesn’t subside throughout the year and causes nasal congestion and a runny nose. You may feel like you have a permanent cold that won’t go away.
Dust mites are the most common cause of perennial allergic rhinitis but it can be caused by any allergy that is present year round. The other most common causes are cats and dogs.
Science Photo Library / Getty Images
The actual prevalence of perennial allergic rhinitis may be understated, as this condition can often be undiagnosed. In childhood, boys are more likely than girls to experience perennial allergic rhinitis, however, in adulthood, differences by gender tend to disappear.
While the prevalence varies depending on the study some research shows it could be quite high (up to 23 percent of the population).
You may also find that you have other disorders if you suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis. Asthma is one of the most common problems that you may experience. These other conditions may often co-exist with perennial allergic rhinitis:
If left undiagnosed or untreated perennial allergic rhinitis can lead to other conditions such as chronic sinusitis or abnormal growths such as polyps in the nasal cavities or sinuses.
Nasal inflammation is the hallmark symptom of perennial allergic rhinitis. You may have some or a combination of the following symptoms:
- Nasal obstruction or stuffiness
- Runny nose
If your condition has progressed to sinusitis or the growth of abnormal tissue you may also experience the following symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Decreased sense of smell
- Facial pain or fullness
- Foul-smelling or an abnormal color of nasal discharge
- Postnasal drip
Perennial allergic rhinitis can be diagnosed by a primary care physician but may be best diagnosed by a doctor who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat (an otolaryngologist).
Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history and ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing. You may also be questioned about things that you think might trigger your symptoms, as well as your family’s medical history.
This may be followed by a physical exam, specifically, your ears, nose, and throat will be examined for conditions such as deviated septum or fluid in the ears. If, after your history and physical, your doctor suspects perennial allergic rhinitis some of the following diagnostic tests may be ordered:
- Blood or skin testing to diagnose specific allergies
- CT or MRI scans to look for chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, etc…
Several treatment options exist for the management of perennial allergic rhinitis. If a specific allergy has been identified, avoiding the substance you are allergic to may be helpful in managing your symptoms.
You may want to work on decreasing the prevalence of allergens in your home. To do this, you may want to try:
- Adding a dehumidifier (if you are allergic to dust mites)
- Cleaning and vacuuming living spaces on a regular basis
- Get rid of pets or limit their access to bedrooms
- Occasional deep cleaning with carpet cleaning, steam cleaning, or dry cleaning or better yet replace carpet with another type of flooring
If you are unable to eliminate allergens from your home or environment, medications or immunotherapy may be options for treating allergies. Medications commonly used for controlling allergy symptoms include the following antihistamines:
- Cetirizine hydrochloride
While these medications are available over-the-counter they should only be used under the direction of your doctor.
Make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows all the medications you are taking to avoid interactions and inform them of any medication allergies you might have. Older antihistamines such as diphenhydramine are known to cause drowsiness.
Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be an option for some people with perennial allergic rhinitis. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option that involves giving you small amounts of the substance you are allergic to and gradually increasing the amount you are given over time.
This can change your body’s immune response to that substance. It is not available for all types of allergies and can be a time-consuming process since at least the first dose, and commonly subsequent doses, need to be given under medical supervision.
Allergy shots are generally not used in children under the age of 5. Your response to allergy shots may vary and could range from a complete cure of your symptoms to no response at all. In general, studies show this treatment to be beneficial and cost-effective.
In addition to antihistamines for controlling your allergies, other medications may be used to control symptoms. Many of these medications are available over-the-counter and may include decongestants and nasal sprays. Intranasal steroids are often used in addition to antihistamines.
Decongestant nasal sprays can be associated with a condition called rebound congestion (also referred to as nasal spray addiction) when used longer than three days. Some prescription nasal sprays are less likely to cause rebound congestion. Talk to your doctor about rebound congestion and your options for nasal decongestants.
Nasal irrigation using a neti pot may be helpful in controlling nasal symptoms including congestion. A humidifier may also be beneficial in helping with congestion, however, if you are allergic to dust mites you should be aware that high humidity levels can increase the number of dust mites in your environment.
If your condition has progressed to chronic sinusitis or if you have structural abnormalities such as deviated septum or nasal polyps additional treatments may be necessary.
While antibiotics are sometimes used to treat chronic sinusitis this condition often requires surgery. This is especially true if you have a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, or nasal polyps. Nasal sinus surgery is common in the United States and is usually done endoscopically in a same day surgery setting.
A Word From Verywell
Perennial allergic rhinitis is a chronic condition that left untreated may cause a variety of side effects. The first step in your treatment should be to try and eliminate the allergens from your home.
If you are still unsuccessful in having a resolution from your allergies, then the treatments described above may be very helpful in reducing your symptoms.
This Is the Reason Your Allergies Are Terrible This Year
Photo credit: iStock/razyph
Allergy season is upon us, (runny-nosed, watery-eyed) friends. And if you’re like the thousands of other Philadelphians who suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know they can leave you foggy and fatigued. To combat this perennial nuisance — and perhaps put a stop to your seasonal allergies for good — we spoke with Jeffrey Millstein, MD, a primary care physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, who provided us a slew of helpful tips for tackling allergy season head-on.
First, some good news: there are no new super-pollens out there ready to wreak havoc on your nostrils. “I am not aware that there are any ‘new’ allergens this year,” says Millstein. So stay on the lookout for repeat offenders like grasses, trees and weeds, which are loaded with allergy-inducing pollen granules.
But if you’ve noticed that your allergies are particularly bad this year, it might be because of those balmy, sunny days we experienced a few weeks ago. According to Millstein, “Often if there is warmer weather in early spring, pollens may be more abundant which can cause a worse allergy year for sufferers.” To remedy this, he suggests staying indoors when pollen counts are especially high (you can reference weather.com for this!), and hopping in the shower after spending time outdoors — especially after doing yard work. Though you might be indoors, it doesn’t mean that the pollen permeating the air hasn’t clung to your clothing and hair.
While many people have been afflicted with seasonal allergies for many years and have consulted a physician, it’s always smart to run your symptoms by a doctor if you find that your allergies are persistent, atypical or do not respond to over-the-counter medications. “Some folks may experience wheezing or skin rash, [so] it is important to be sure that the symptoms are indeed from pollen and not another environmental agent or infection,” notes Millstein. “I would suggest a visit to the doctor if the symptoms are refractory or do not correlate with higher pollen count times, or if accompanied by fever.”
His parting advice? Start taking your medications as soon as possible — especially if you’re not demonstrating symptoms. “Allergy sufferers can do a lot to ward off symptoms,” he explains. “It helps to begin medications before symptoms develop if you are a known reactor, and take them consistently.” Most allergy medication are available over-the-counter these days, but he notes that some prescription plans may still cover these medications, which may be cost-saving for the patient.
For more information about Penn Primary Care, click here.
This is a paid partnership between Penn Medicine and Philadelphia Magazine’s City/Studio
90,000 Why We Suffer From Allergies: A New Explanation
- Karl Zimmer
- BBC Future
Photo Credit, SPL
Allergic reactions to everything from pollen to peanuts are poisoning the lives of millions of people … But why does our body react so painfully to such seemingly harmless stimuli? The correspondent tried to figure it out.
BBC Future .
In my case, these were hornets.
One summer day, when I was 12, I found myself in a tall grassy field near one of my friends’ house and kicked a hornet’s nest the size of a soccer ball. A squadron of angry insects dug into my leg. Their stings pierced me like red-hot needles. I tried to brush the hornets off myself and started to run, but after a few minutes I felt that something was wrong with me. A constellation of pink dots has formed around the bites. They began to swell, the rash crawled higher up the legs.I started having an allergic reaction.
A friend’s mom gave me some kind of antihistamine and loaded me into her van. As we drove to the county hospital, I became more and more afraid. I had a very vague idea of the horrors that happen when an allergy breaks loose. I imagined a rash creeping up to my throat and sealing it.
But I survived and now I can tell this story. In the hospital, the rash gradually subsided, but a constant fear of hornets remained.An allergic reaction test showed that I am susceptible to insects. And not to honey bees or various wasps, but to a specific species of hornets that stung me. The emergency room doctor warned me that the next time I stumbled upon their nest, I might be less fortunate. She gave me an EpiPen and told me that I should immediately stick the injector in my thigh if the hornet stings me again. The antiallergic drug epinephrine in the injection will lower my blood pressure, clear my airways, and possibly save my life.
In general, I was lucky. 35 years have passed since that day, and during all this time I have never come across a hornet’s nest.
Allergies so different
Every allergy sufferer has a history of allergies. This is the story of how he discovered that his immune system goes haywire when some arbitrary but very specific molecule enters the body. There are hundreds of millions of such stories. In the United States alone, there are 18 million people suffering from hay fever.Food allergies affect millions of American children. Various types of allergies are becoming increasingly common in many other countries. A far from complete list of allergens includes latex, gold, plant pollen (ragweed, chaff and amaranth pollen are especially dangerous), penicillin, insect venom, peanuts, papaya, jellyfish tentacle burns, perfume, eggs, feces of domestic dust mites, pecans, salmon , beef and nickel.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Insect allergies can take the worst forms
Once these substances cause an allergy, it can manifest itself in a range of symptoms, from annoying to fatal.A rash appears, the lips swell. Hay fever is accompanied by a runny nose and sore eyes. Food allergies can manifest with vomiting and diarrhea. In an unfortunate minority, allergies can almost instantly trigger a potentially fatal whole-body reaction known as anaphylactic shock.
The cumulative burden of all these misfortunes is colossal, while the range of treatments is limited. EpiPen ( is also known in Russia as EpiPen – Red .) Is life-saving, but the long-term treatments available to doctors offer mixed results for people plagued by mold allergies or the annual appearance of pollen.Antihistamines often relieve the allergy sufferer’s symptoms, but these medications cause drowsiness.
We could have a more effective treatment if scientists could understand the nature of allergies. However, the intricacies of the various causes of allergic reactions are such that they can be maddening. Cells are excited, chemicals are released, signals are transmitted. Scientists have so far only partially described this process. But behind all this biochemical web lies an even more intriguing mystery: why do we have allergies at all?
“This is exactly the problem that I love,” Ruslan Medzhitov told me recently.“It is very large, fundamental and completely unexplored.” graduation courses, barely squeezing between human-sized tanks of oxygen and incubators filled with immune cells. “We have a mess here, but it’s a productive mess,” he says with a shrug.Medzhitov has a boxer’s face – massive, round, with a wide flat nose. However, his speech is distinguished by the grace of expression.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Everyone has their own allergy symptoms
Indeed, the disorder that reigns in Medzhitov’s laboratory is extremely productive. Over the past 20 years, he has made many fundamental discoveries in the field of immunology and has received a number of the most prestigious awards. In the past, he became the first recipient of the newly established Else Krener Fresenius Prize in the amount of 4 million euros (of which 3.5 million go to research, and half a million to the scientist personally).Although Melzhitov did not receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine, many of his fellow scientists believe that he is more than worthy of this award. In 2011, 26 leading immunologists published a letter in the journal Nature protesting that the Nobel Committee had not chosen him.
Now Medzhitov’s attention is focused on a question, the answer to which could make another revolution in immunology: why are we susceptible to allergies? No one has a firm answer. However, the theory that is now considered the leading one claims that allergies are a kind of misfires when the body’s defenses against parasitic worms are triggered.In the industrialized world, where such infections have become rare, the system disproportionately responds to completely harmless objects, which makes us suffer in the process of such a defensive reaction.
According to Medzhitov, this is not true. Allergies are not just biological errors. In fact, they are an effective defense against harmful chemicals. These remedies served our ancestors for tens of millions of years and continue to serve us today. Medzhitov admits that this theory is controversial.But at the same time, he is confident that history will prove him right. “I think the situation will change 180 degrees compared to the stage when the idea itself is fiercely opposed,” he told me. “The moment will come when everyone will say:“ Well, yes, this is obvious. Of course, this is how it happens. “
Doctors of the ancient world knew about allergies. Three thousand years ago, Chinese doctors described a” plant fever “that caused runny nose in the fall.There is evidence that the Egyptian pharaoh Menes, the founder of the First Dynasty, died of a wasp bite in 2641 BC, although according to another version he was killed by a hippo while hunting. Two and a half thousand years later, the Roman philosopher Lucretius wrote: “What is food for one, is poison for another.”
Photo author, Thinkstock
Sometimes allergies pass with age
But only a little over a century ago, scientists realized that all these diverse symptoms are different heads of the same hydra.By that time, researchers had already established that bacteria and other pathogens are the cause of many diseases, and we repel the attacks of these enemies with our immune system – an army of cells that can release deadly chemicals that precisely target antibodies. They further found out that the immune system can do harm.
Early 1900s French scientists Charles Richet and Paul Portier studied the effects of toxins on the body. They administered small doses of sea anemone venom to the dogs, and a week later, if the dog survived, injected it with an even lower dose.Within a few minutes the dog was in shock and died. Instead of protecting the animal from harm, the immune system made it even more susceptible to the toxin. ( For the discovery of this phenomenon, which he gave the name of anaphylaxis, Richet received the Nobel Prize in 1913 – Ed.)
Other scientists have found that certain medications cause rashes and other symptoms. Sensitivity increases with exposure, as opposed to the protection against infectious diseases that antibodies provide.The Austrian pediatrician and tuberculosis diagnostician Clemens von Pirke wondered how substances that enter the body can change the nature of its reaction. To describe this process, he coined the term “allergy” in 1906, made up of the Greek words ἄλλος (other) and ἔργον (work, exposure).
In the decades that followed, scientists discovered that the molecular stages of these reactions were strikingly similar. The process begins when the allergen enters one of the body surfaces – skin, eyes, nasopharynx, mouth, respiratory tract, intestines.These surfaces are replete with immune cells that act as border guards. When a guard encounters an allergen, he absorbs and destroys the intruder, and then decorates the outer surface with fragments of this substance. Then the cell finds some kind of lymphatic tissue. There, it passes the fragments on to another immune cell, which produces fork-shaped antibodies known as immunoglobulin E or IgE.
These antibodies activate a response when they encounter an allergen again.The reaction begins when an antibody activates a component of the immune system known as a mast cell or mast cell, which explodes and releases a swarm of chemicals. Some of these chemicals cling to nerve endings and cause itching and coughing. Sometimes mucus appears. The muscles in the larynx contract and it becomes difficult to breathe.
Photo author, Thinkstock
People are escaping allergies in different ways – someone tries to wear a mask …
This painting, recreated in laboratories over the past century, reveals part of the mystery of allergy indicated by the question ” as?”.The question “why?” Remains unanswered. This is surprising because there is a very clear answer to this question, which is mostly provided by the immune system. Our ancestors were constantly attacked by pathogens. Natural selection favored those mutations that helped them repel these attacks; and these mutations accumulated to eventually create the sophisticated defense system that we have today.
It was more difficult to understand how natural selection could lead to allergies.A powerful immune response to harmless things could hardly have contributed to the survival of our ancestors. In addition, allergies are oddly selective. Only a few people are allergic, and only a few substances are allergens. In some people, the allergy begins to manifest itself far from a young age, sometimes the allergy from which they suffered in childhood disappears. And for decades, no one could understand what an IgE immunoglobulin is and what its properties are. He did not show the ability to stop any viruses or bacteria.It looked like our body was producing some special kind of antibodies – just to ruin our lives.
One of the first clues appeared in 1964. Parasitologist Bridget Ogilvy investigated how the immune system counteracts parasitic roundworms – nematodes. She found that rats infected with these parasites produced large amounts of a substance later called IgE. Further research has shown that these antibodies signal the immune system to launch a devastating counterattack against the worms.
Parasitic worms pose a serious threat not only to rats, but also to humans. Hookworm worms affect, in particular, the intestines and suck blood. Liver flukes can destroy liver tissue and cause cancer. Tapeworms can invade the brain and form cysts. More than 20% of people on Earth are carriers of helminthic infestations, most of them live in low-income countries. Before the advent of modern health care and food safety control systems, our ancestors were forced to fight worms, as well as ticks and other parasites throughout their lives.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Allergies to pets are quite common
In the 1980s. several scientists have argued vigorously for the relationship between parasites and allergies. Probably, our ancestors in the process of evolution developed the ability to recognize proteins (proteins) on the surface of worms and respond by producing IgE antibodies. The antibodies “ignite” the cells of the immune system on the skin and in the intestines to stop the parasite’s attempt to enter the body as soon as possible.”We have about an hour of time at our disposal to respond decisively and lower the parasites’ chances of survival,” says Professor David Dunn, a parasitologist and immunologist at the University of Cambridge.
According to the parasitic theory, the proteins of the worms have the same shape as other molecules that we constantly encounter in life. If we encounter such molecules, we turn to a pointless defense. “Allergies are nothing more than an unfortunate side effect of warding off parasitic worms,” says Dunn.
When Medzhitov was just starting to study immunology, he was taught the parasitic doctrine of the origin of allergies. However, 10 years ago, he began to have doubts on this score. “I saw it didn’t explain anything,” he says. Therefore, Medzhitov pondered his own theory on this score.
Reflections make up a large part of Medzhitov’s scientific work. This is a legacy from his years of study in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s, when the country’s universities had little equipment and even less interest in training good scientists.Medzhitov’s student years were spent at the Tashkent State University in Uzbekistan. Every autumn professors ( according to the order of the communist party organs – Ed.) sent students to the fields to help collective farmers in the cotton harvest. We worked every day from dawn to dusk. “It was terrible,” says Medzhitov. “If you didn’t work, you were expelled from the university.” He recalls how he secretly took textbooks on biochemistry with him into the field, for which he was punished.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Plants blooming, pollen – the most powerful allergens
It was no better in graduate school.He came to study at Moscow State University immediately after the collapse of the Soviet regime. The university turned out to be bankrupt, Medzhitov did not have the equipment necessary to conduct experiments. “I have been reading and thinking almost all my time,” Medzhitov told me.
He was mainly thinking about how our body perceives the external world. We recognize the “patterns” of photons with our eyes, and the “patterns” of vibrations in the air with our ears. According to Medzhitov, the immune system is one of the systems for recognizing “patterns”: it detects molecular signatures instead of light and sounds.
While searching for scientific articles in his discipline, Medzhitov came across an abstract of an essay written in 1989 by Charles Jenway, an immunologist at Yale University, entitled “Approaching the Asymptote? Evolution and Revolution in Immunology.” ( An asymptote is a straight line in mathematics that a curve approaches endlessly. – Ed.)
Medzhitov was intrigued and spent a few months of his scholarship to buy a reprint of this work. His expectations were fully justified, because this work revealed to him the teachings of Jenway about “innate immunity”, and this doctrine was destined to change his life.
At the time, Jenway argued that antibodies have one significant drawback: the immune system takes several days to develop an effective antibody against a new invasion. He suggested that the immune system may have another line of defense that provides faster defenses. It may be using a “pattern” recognition system that quickly detects bacteria and viruses and triggers a response immediately.
Medzhitov reasoned about the same, so he immediately wrote to Jenway. Jenway responded, and a correspondence began between them, which eventually led Medzhitov to New Haven, Connecticut. In 1994, he became a postdoctoral researcher at Jenway’s laboratory. Charles Jenway died in 2003.
Photo author, Thinkstock
People refuse many products, just not to suffer from allergies
Medzhitov still marvels how Jenway agreed to work with him.”I think the only reason he took me to his lab is because no one else wanted to pursue this idea,” he recalls.
Feeling support from Jenway’s colleagues, Derek Sant’Angelo and other laboratory staff, Medzhitov learned very quickly. Soon, he and Jenway discovered a new class of sensors on the surface of a particular type of immune cell. When faced with an invasion by a foreign body, such a sensor attaches to the alien and triggers a chemical alarm system that sends other immune cells to search for pathogens to detect and destroy them.It is a fast and accurate way to detect and eliminate foreign bacteria.
The discovery by Medzhitov and Jenway of these sensors, now known as toll-like receptors (TLR-4) in mammals, has revealed a new dimension in our immune defenses and has been recognized as a fundamental principle of immunology.
Medzhitov continued to speculate after he and Jenway discovered toll-like receptors. If the immune system has special sensors for bacteria and other foreign bodies, it may have unopened sensors for detecting other enemies.It was then that he started thinking about parasitic worms, immunoglobulins E (IgE) and allergies. But at first, when he thought about it, the picture did not add up.
It is true that when the immune system detects parasitic worms, it releases IgE. However, IgE does not play such a significant role in the fight against foreign organisms. For example, scientists genetically engineered mice that were unable to produce IgE and found that such animals were still able to defend against parasitic worms.Medzhitov was skeptical about the idea that allergens mimic parasitic proteins. Many allergens, such as nickel or penicillin, have no possible counterparts in the parasite’s molecular structure.
The more Medzhitov thought about allergens, the less important their structure seemed to him. Perhaps allergens are not related to each other in shape, but in what they do.
We know that allergens often cause physical harm. They open cells, irritate membranes, destroy proteins.Maybe, Medzhitov thought, allergens cause such serious harm that we need protection from them. “If you think about all the main symptoms of allergic reactions – runny nose, tears, sneezing, coughing, itching, vomiting, diarrhea – they all have something in common,” says Medzhitov. “They all have to do with expelling something.” Suddenly, the mystery of allergy began to be presented differently. Allergies are not a sign of a malfunction in the body. They represent the body’s strategy to get rid of allergens.
Author of the photo, Thinkstock
Caption to the photo,
It is usually difficult to determine exactly what allergies are, as a rule, special tests do not help
Studying this possibility, Medzhitov found out that the idea had already surfaced from time to time, but then was again buried. For example, in 1991, evolutionary biologist Margie Prophet suggested that allergies combat toxins. Immunologists rejected this idea, apparently on the grounds that Prophet was a stranger to them.Medzhitov found the evolutionary theory of toxins proposed by Prophet very useful. “She seemed to have untied our hands,” the scientist said.
Co-authored with two of his students, Noah Palm and Rachel Rosenstein, Medzhitov published his theory in Nature in 2012. Then he began to test her empirically. He first checked for a link between damage and allergies. He and his colleagues injected mice containing PLA2, an allergic enzyme called phospholipase A2, which is found in bee venom and destroys cell membranes.
As Medzhitov predicted, the animals’ immune systems did not respond to PLA2 itself. Only when the PLA2 enzyme broke open the cell membranes did the immune system produce IgE antibodies.
Another prediction contained in Medzhitov’s theory was that these antibodies would protect the mice instead of causing them to get sick. To test this hypothesis, Medzhitov and his colleagues, following the first injection of PLA2, injected mice with a second, stronger dose of the drug.If the animals had not previously been exposed to PLA2, their body temperature should have jumped sharply, which could even have led to the death of the test subjects. However, the exposed mice responded with an allergic reaction, which, for reasons not yet clear, weakened the effects of PLA2.
Medzhitov did not know that another scientist was conducting an experiment on the other side of the United States, the results of which could further substantiate his theory.Stephen Galli, chair of the department of pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine, has for many years studied mast cells, mysterious immune cells that can kill people during allergic reactions. He had a suspicion that, in fact, mast cells should help the body. So, in 2006, Galli and his colleagues found that mast cells destroy toxins contained in the venom of a viper. This discovery led Galli to the same idea, to which Medzhitov was inclined: and whether allergies can fulfill a protective function.
Photo author, SPL
The same mast cells, the main agents of allergic reactions
To get an answer to this question, Galli and his colleagues injected mice with injections containing from one to two doses of poison corresponding to one bee sting thus causing allergic reactions in animals. They then injected subjects with potentially lethal doses to see if the response would increase the mice’s chances of survival. And so it happened. What’s more, when Galli and his team injected IgE antibodies to mice that had not previously been exposed to the poison, these animals were also protected from a potentially dangerous dose.
Medzhitov was delighted when he discovered Galli’s work in the same issue of Immunity magazine in which his own article was published. “It was nice to know that someone came to the same results using a completely different model. It was encouraging,” Medzhitov told me.
And yet, after all the experiments, many questions remained unanswered. How exactly does the harm caused to the body by bee venom lead to the release of IgE? And how does IgE protect mice? It is to these questions that Medzhitov’s team is now looking for answers.He showed me some experiments when I visited him again in March. We squeezed our way past the new freezer blocking the corridor to enter the room where his employee, Jamie Cullen, spends most of her time. She placed a bowl of pink syrup under the microscope and invited me to take a look. I saw a whole host of bodies in the shape of a melon.
“These are the cells that create all the problems,” Medzhitov said. I looked at mast cells, the main agents of allergic reactions.Cullen is studying how IgE antibodies collide with mast cells, causing them to become susceptible, and in some cases hypersensitive, to allergens.
An alarm for the body
As Medzhitov predicts, such experiments will show that detecting allergens works in the same way as a home security alarm system: “You can spot a burglar not because you recognized him by sight, but by a broken window.” , he explains.The damage caused by the allergen stimulates the immune system, which collects nearby molecules and creates antibodies to them. Thus, the culprit is identified and can be twisted the next time he tries to break into the house.
Allergies are becoming more understandable from an evolutionary point of view when viewed as a kind of home burglar alarm system. Toxic chemicals, the same poisons of plants and animals, have long been a threat to human health.Allergies provided protection to our ancestors by flushing these substances out of the body. And the discomfort that our ancestors experienced when exposed to these allergens could make them move to safer corners of their habitat.
In Jamie Cullen’s lab, there is a plastic box in which a pair of mice live. There are dozens of other similar boxes in the basement of the building. Some of the mice are common, others are not. Scientists from Medzhitov’s team used genetic engineering methods to deprive animals of the ability to produce IgE.
Medzhitov and Kallen will be monitoring these allergy-free mice for the next couple of years. Animals can be spared the suffering associated with hay fever caused by ragweed pollen, which inevitably ends up in their boxes with air currents. But, as Medzhitov predicts, they will have worse. Unable to withstand plant pollen and other allergens, they will allow toxic molecules to freely enter their body, where they will harm organs and tissues.
“This has never been done before, so we do not know what the consequences will be,” says Medzhitov. But if his theory is correct, the experiment will demonstrate that allergies equip us with an invisible shield.
How lucky …
Even if the experiment goes as expected, Medzhitov is not sure that his hypotheses about allergies will gain acceptance as quickly as those related to toll-like receptors. The idea of the dangers of allergies is too deeply rooted in the minds of doctors.“You have to reckon with the inertia of thinking,” he says.
However, understanding the goals of allergies can lead to dramatic changes in the way we treat them. “One of the conclusions from our views is that any attempt to completely block allergic defenses is a bad idea,” Medzhitov says. Instead, allergists should investigate why, in a minority of people, defensive reactions lead to hypersensitivity. “It’s the same as with pain,” Medzhitov continues.- Normal pain is good. Excessive pain is trouble. “
In the meantime, Medzhitov would be pleased if he could convince people not to treat allergies as a disease, despite all the suffering they cause.” You sneeze to protect yourself. And it’s just bad luck that you don’t like sneezing, ”he says with a slight shrug. “Evolution doesn’t care about your feelings.”
19 allergy myths – and exposing them
Food allergies can be severe, but are often confused with very different diseases.True food allergies are much less common than, for example, pollen allergies. Scientists have calculated that one in five American adults is sure he has an allergy, but in fact only one in ten is allergic. Most likely, the rest have either bowel disease or food intolerances . This is a different disease.
Intolerance is diagnosed in people who do not have enough enzymes to assimilate a substance in food – for example, milk sugar lactose .If such a person drinks milk, he will have a stomach ache or diarrhea. This is unpleasant, but not nearly as dangerous as an allergy. Such lactose intolerance will definitely not lead to anaphylactic shock (laryngeal edema, bronchospasm, pressure reduction at the same time).
There are some complex intolerances: for example, gluten – one of the proteins in cereals. This disease is called celiac disease, and it is much more dangerous: because of gluten, foci of inflammation appear literally on the intestinal mucosa, and the ability to absorb other nutrients is impaired.Celiac disease occurs in about 1% of the population and is at the junction of allergic and autoimmune diseases. Despite the popularity of glutenophobia in Russia and the world, gluten-free diet is needed only for celiac patients . Only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the treatment you need.
Monosodium Glutamate is a salt of the essential amino acid glutamic acid that is used as a cheap flavor enhancer. Glutamic amino acid is a component of many proteins in our body, we cannot do without it.Nevertheless, a version has emerged that glutamate in the form of an additive can cause allergies. It has now been proven that this is not the case.
What causes allergies to dust, fish and tree pollen and why is the number of sick people growing? Allergist-Immunologist Says
Why does an allergic reaction to house dust, food and pollen develop, can a disease occur in adulthood, what is the difference between different generations of antihistamines and are there new types of allergies in Russia?
Head of the Department of Allergology and Immunology of the Clinic of the Pavlov First Medical University Elena Bobrova answers the most common questions about allergies.
– What allergies are most common in St. Petersburg?
– In the northern regions among the adult population, the most common allergies are caused by the so-called household allergen – the allergen of house dust mites and the epidermis of pets. 80 percent of patients with allergic diseases have this appearance.
In our country, in the northern regions, allergies to tree pollen are also common: birch, alder, hazel. Alder and hazel pollen has already appeared in the air, birch pollen is about to appear.They all bloom in April-May, and this period ends in early June.
Another common pollen allergy is grass pollen allergy. These are grasses that grow on lawns, meadow grasses.
In addition, allergy to pollen of weeds, such as wormwood, is common: although it also grows in our country, they suffer more from allergy to wormwood pollen in the steppes, in the southern regions.
Food allergies are rare in adults. This is a pediatric problem.Children are often allergic to animal products such as cow’s milk proteins, chicken eggs, fish, as well as cereals and soy. These types of food allergies disappear mainly by the age of five, and in many children earlier.
– What allergies usually persist even in adulthood?
– Most often, fish allergies persist from childhood. Adults may develop an [allergic reaction] to plant foods. They usually also suffer from pollen allergies because pollen [and some foods] have cross-antigens.For example, in about 40 percent of people with allergies to birch, we can be allergic to nuts, to stone fruits [crops]. Only five percent have cross-food grain allergies.
About 27 percent of those with pollen allergies to wormwood have food allergies, such as mustard or Asteraceae. This group includes many medicinal herbs: yarrow, calendula, chamomile.
– How does the allergic reaction proceed and how does it depend on the type of allergy?
– Allergy develops according to certain laws.There are four types of allergic reactions. As a rule, in case of allergic reactions to pollen or plant products, specific immunoglobulins of class E are produced. For example, such antibodies appear against birch and hazel pollen, apples, carrots.
Allergy is always a genetically determined disease.
– What is the reason for the growing number of allergies in this case? For example, the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology speaks of an epidemic increase in the incidence.
– There is indeed an increase in allergic diseases. Most often, with allergic diseases, the respiratory tract is affected, which is manifested by allergic rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis. In childhood, pathology such as atopic dermatitis is often found, which with age usually transforms into a respiratory form of the disease.
The damage to the respiratory tract is largely associated with air pollution in industrial centers, where there are a lot of industrial emissions.Polluted air damages the epithelium, and a weak antigen that did not cause diseases in previous generations penetrates through it: pollen, house dust mite allergen. In this case, an allergic reaction is realized in the form of bronchial asthma or allergic rhinitis.
– That is, such an allergy can occur in the middle of life?
– All the same, allergy is predominantly an early disease. Therefore, there are many allergy sufferers among children.
Protection against allergic disease is carried out by the development of blocking antibodies – immunoglobulins of the G4 class.They do not allow the development of a vivid clinical picture, which is caused by a high concentration of immunoglobulins of class E.
But if for some reason the production of immunoglobulins of class G4 is disrupted, then the clinical picture of an allergic disease may develop or symptoms that were in the past may return. Therefore, it happens that a number of people had manifestations in childhood, then they passed, and then in adulthood, at the age of 30–40, a clinically expressed allergy may suddenly develop.
– If the allergy persists into adulthood, may it nevertheless subside over the course of life?
– If the diagnosis of bronchial asthma was made in childhood, but the patient did not show signs of suffocation for many years and does not bother him, this diagnosis is not withdrawn.
Another thing is whether such a patient is subject to treatment. If there are absolutely no complaints and functional indicators remain within the normal range, then no. But still, a person should know what caused bronchial asthma in childhood and avoid these causally significant factors.Otherwise there will be a relapse. If you follow the [necessary requirements], then a huge number of years can pass and the patient will have a stable remission – this applies to bronchial asthma, and rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis. So the treatment in different periods of life and periods of the course of the disease is different.
– How does dust allergy develop? Does it depend, for example, on the composition of the dust settling at home?
– Household dust allergy is a household allergy to the antigen in the apartment.First of all, it is associated with an allergy to a house tick. Ticks are microscopic animals that are invisible to the eye, do not bite, but release an allergen. This was proven back in the 50s of the last century. In Latin they are called Dermatophagoides.
Ticks spread from infected apartments. In our city, they infected about 80 percent of apartments. How does this happen? As a rule, if people move to a new apartment and bring there from relatives at least one small pillow with ticks in it, that’s enough.They multiply quickly, after three months their number [will increase] twofold.
There are no ticks in completely new apartments, where no one has lived. They also do not exist in institutions or hotels, because there are usually no personal items that can be contaminated, and sanitization is carried out.
– That is, city dust – for example, the one that accumulates on the roads and in the air after winter – is safe in this sense?
– This is a large dispersed dust that does not penetrate the lower respiratory tract and cannot be an allergen.An allergen is a protein with a certain molecular weight that can penetrate the epithelium. And just dirt does not penetrate through the epithelium.
– How do different generations of antihistamines differ? Is there a difference in how they affect allergies?
– There are two generations of antihistamines. First-generation drugs usually work for six hours, are taken three times a day and have a lot of side effects, such as drowsiness, lack of coordination, and addiction.
There are a lot of second-generation drugs that everyone has been using lately. All of these drugs work 24 hours, they are taken once a day, and, as a rule, they do not have the side effects that I mentioned. They allow you to drive a car, which is absolutely not the case with first-generation drugs.
– If a person has minor manifestations of allergies that do not cause a serious condition such as suffocation, is it necessary for him to take antihistamines?
– Even if there are minor manifestations of allergies, you should consult a doctor.Antihistamines are not a panacea that works in all cases. There are different ways to treat allergic diseases: for example, the treatment of bronchial asthma is different from the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Different remedies are used and different remedies will be effective. Therefore, you need to contact a specialist.
– Is it necessary to take tests for allergies for those people who do not have a diagnosed disease and any symptoms?
– If the patient has no symptoms and complaints, then, in my opinion, there is no need to take tests – and they are quite expensive – there is no need.If a patient suffers from all relatives of allergies, but he himself does not have symptoms, then he, if desired, can contact an allergist.
– Are there new types of allergies?
– If we talk about food allergies, then the human diet does not change so much: as it was for many years, it has remained so. Most often they eat dairy products, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, cereals in any form, fruits and vegetables.
On the other hand, in the past there was very little soy in our northern diet, so almost no allergies were recorded.Soy is common all over the world, and allergies to it occur. Now it appears more often in our country, as we began to use more of this product. Or, for example, sesame seeds appeared [in our diet] – this is also an allergen. So I would say that new allergies are associated with changing eating habits.
As for pollen allergy, the plants that grew here many years ago are still growing. Nothing new appears here. But there are differences associated with temperature: if there is an earlier warming, then symptoms of pollen allergy appear earlier.And if it was a cold winter, and then a sharp warming, then all the plants begin to bloom at the same time, which causes more severe outbreaks of respiratory allergies.
– Which allergies are the most dangerous in terms of health effects?
– A very dangerous allergen – an allergen of hymenoptera venom: wasps and bees. An allergic reaction to the bite of such an insect is also determined in a laboratory way – by determining the corresponding specific immunoglobulins.
The situation here is quite complicated: a person must behave in such a way that he is not bitten. Otherwise, the consequences will be very serious – up to the development of anaphylactic shock. At the consultation, we tell such patients what to have at home and to do on their own when they are bitten by a wasp or bee.
Allergy to fish can also cause severe reactions. Patients usually know about it from childhood. Some not only cannot eat fish, but even react sharply to its smell.Such patients should be extremely careful in catering, because if there was fish on the plate, they removed it and put something else, then this trace can provoke an extremely severe reaction in the patient.
Pollen allergy occurs in the northern regions, but it is not as severe as, for example, in the southern regions. Allergies to pets and ticks can cause severe asthma, but this is usually controlled and if the patient follows [the doctor’s] prescriptions, there is often no acute severe reaction.
– When it comes to fish allergy, does quantity play a role? Let’s say, will it make a difference if a person has just a fish on a plate or he ate a whole piece at once?
– Any allergic reaction, including to fish, does not depend on the dose. A small amount of antigen can enter the body – and immediately a cascade of allergic reactions develops, which can be very severe. And on the other hand, on the contrary, they are light. It depends on the patient and not on the quantity of goods received.
– There is such a thing as pseudo-allergies: for example, these include “allergies” to the cold. How do they work and how do they differ from common allergies?
– There are a huge number of pseudo-allergic reactions – more than allergic ones. They are characterized by the absence of an immune phase, that is, an antigen reaction within the body. Many completely different mechanisms underlie pseudo-allergic reactions. Therefore, when diagnosing, we find out due to what disease this reaction develops.Often they arise due to disturbances in the work of the gastrointestinal tract, impaired fermentation, intestinal dysbiosis – for example, after the use of antibiotics.
Here, by the way, there is a dependence on the dose of the consumed product. The more a person has eaten, the worse it is for him. And when the patient is cured, he can eat [this product] again. In the case of allergies, the patient can never consume [allergic foods].
Cold allergy is usually a symptom of another medical condition.For example, a skin rash can develop with connective tissue diseases, with autoimmune diseases. Therefore, the reaction to the cold may be due to the fact that the person is not well treated and does not receive enough medication. This is not an allergy.
Allergy is always a reaction to a substance, most often a protein of a certain molecular weight. It cannot arise on the physical factor.
What helps with allergies and how to treat it
I did not have time to stay behind the next season of colds, and there is a new attack ahead. Every spring, millions of Russians sadly prepare for it, who have to suffer from allergies to plant pollen. At the sight of these torments, those who do not have such symptoms thank fate. But they are also strongly advised by medical professionals to be attentive to the signals of the body. Before the start of the nightmare two months of reddened eyes, swollen noses and unrestrained sneezing, Znak.com (in our editorial office, of course, there are also allergy sufferers) prepared answers to questions that are most often asked by doctors.
uwe umstätter / IGlobal Look Press
Why do I have allergies every spring?
An allergy is an increased sensitivity of the body to an irritant called an allergen that causes a painful condition. There are a lot of potential allergens, as well as possible reactions to them in different people under different circumstances. Therefore, allergy is called an individual disease. Someone begins to scratch furiously, having inadvertently consumed only one strawberry, someone is categorically contraindicated in close contact with cats, and still others are generally afraid to literally go out into the light.
The reaction to pollen from flowering plants – hay fever – is one of the most common allergic reactions. The variety of plants also gives rise to the variety of allergens in the air. As well as their number, as well as the duration of this whole nightmare for allergy sufferers: first, birch dust, then bird cherry and lilac, then herbs come into play. And there comes the turn of poplars with their fluff (although the allergy is actually caused not by the fluff itself, but by the pollen of cereal grasses, which is carried along with the ubiquitous fluff).Therefore, in the spring and in the first half of summer, literally at every step you will meet an unfortunate person with characteristic symptoms. Actually, this explains the nature of what we call the season of allergic reactions.
Yuan Zhou / Global Look Press
Is it true that allergies cannot be cured? And what will happen if it is not treated?
The opinion that treating allergies is a futile exercise is indeed quite widespread. According to skeptics, all the so-called treatment supposedly boils down to identifying the source of the body’s inadequate reaction – that is, the very allergen or a group of allergens – and then just try not to come into contact with it if possible.For example, do not eat carrots and apples if they make you itchy and red. Do not bring home branches of blooming bird cherry or lilac if you begin to choke from one of them. If a meeting with an irritant could not be avoided, a first-aid kit is used, which should be at hand for everyone who is really poisoned by allergies, especially with the onset of the “high season”. As a rule, we are talking about drugs of the antihistamine group. After all, histamine is the substance that the body releases during the immune response to the ingress of an allergen, but which, unfortunately, causes most of the unpleasant symptoms of allergy.
At the same time, doctors advise not to forget that the body’s allergic reactions can become more severe and at the same time more varied. Yesterday, as usual, your eyes were watering, and in the morning you woke up with acute coryza. After some time, everything generally turned into bronchial asthma – it is not for nothing that doctors say that allergies “descend” into the body. God forbid one day to get anaphylactic shock – the most acute reaction, fraught with death. The weighting of the form can also be supplemented by polysensitization, that is, the appearance of a reaction not only, for example, to pollen, but also to house dust mites, to certain foods, to something else … Predict when and under what circumstances your body will begin to react to irritants are more acute, impossible.And you probably don’t want to test it yourself.
Jeremy Maude / Moodboard / Global Loop Press
So, along with the obvious recommendation not to provoke your body once again and try to quickly block painful symptoms, it makes sense to also engage in allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). This is a rather long – on average from three to five years – course of treatment, during which the patient is vaccinated with increasing doses of “his” antigen, thereby increasing the body’s ability to resist allergies.Doctors say that the ASIT course may well save the patient from severe reactions and even lead to the complete elimination of hypersensitivity. And here it is important to understand that the course of treatment will be the easier, shorter and, importantly, cheaper, the fewer antigens that cause allergies. So again, we conclude – there is no need to start the disease.
What is the best treatment?
ASIT is considered the only method today that can change the body’s attitude to the allergen and prevent the further development of allergies.Despite the fact that the method has been used all over the world for a long time, it remains the most modern and most effective. Let’s anticipate the next question and give a straightforward answer: yes, domestic drugs used in ASIT are inferior to imported ones, so the purchase of French or Italian vaccines is worth it.
Carrie / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
There are other methods of therapy: pill (using tablets) and sublingual (drops under the tongue). This variability of treatment methods allows the doctor and the patient to determine the most suitable option not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of the physical availability of medical care.Unfortunately, allergists-immunologists are not found in every city polyclinic, let alone a district hospital or a rural outpatient clinic.
Alternative methods of treatment
At least every second medical center today, along with conventional therapy, will also offer non-traditional methods, including allergies. Doctors who deal with the problem seriously take this venture simply: if you feel that it helps you, yes to your health! Indeed, there are people who have been shown, for example, a hypoallergenic diet for years.Firstly, it is clear that it completely excludes some products that cause an inadequate reaction of the body. Secondly, a hypoallergenic diet, in principle, allows you to reduce the allergenic load, even if you do not have a pronounced reaction to eating something, and you start sneezing and itching from pollen or house dust.
McPHOTOf / blickwinkel / Global Look Press
Allergists and immunologists are also loyal to various massages and acupuncture. Especially if the masters of these procedures honestly warn that they will not be able to relieve you of allergies, but they can easily get rid of the thrill during the allergy season.The same acupuncture relieves an attack of suffocation, relieves the symptoms of atopic dermatitis – one of the most annoying and unaesthetic allergic reactions.
All these procedures will help you while you are going through them, and for many people they really become a real salvation. But it is important to understand that until the opposite is proven, one should not expect serious results from alternative methods in therapy.
Can an allergy go away on its own? Or am I suffering like this all my life?
We repeat, everyone has their own allergy, its manifestation is individual, depending on different conditions.There is some possibility that over the years, your body will stop reacting painfully to one allergen or even to several allergens. But is it worth hoping for, given the above-mentioned severity of a neglected allergy? And is it necessary to suffer if you can not only remove unwanted symptoms, but also treat their cause?
Nail Fattakhov / Znak.com
I don’t want to panic, but it’s still important to say: if you don’t have an allergy now, it’s not at all a fact that it will not be in the future, especially if you live in a region with poor ecology.For example, among the students of Chelyabinsk universities, about 27% of allergy sufferers were identified, and among the older generation of townspeople working in heavy industry enterprises, 46% suffer from allergies!
Therefore, regardless of the presence of characteristic symptoms, doctors advise to listen to your body – does it give any specific signals that it makes sense to pay attention to and tell the doctor about it? This is important not only for the timely diagnosis of allergies. In some cases, the appearance in the body of antigens that cause an allergic reaction may indicate the development of other, possibly even more serious, diseases.
What is the punishment for us?
Allergy is considered a disease of the century: some sources claim that this or that type of allergic reactions occurs in 85% of all people living on Earth. Our doctors consider these figures to be overestimated, although they admit that over the past decades (and even years!), There have been more allergy sufferers. For example, studies in Chelyabinsk have shown that even some five years ago the percentage of allergy sufferers did not reach 20, and today we can confidently say that there are no less than a quarter of the total number of all those with whom doctors talked.
Anna Shustova / Russian Look
Doctors agree that allergies can be called a disease of the urban population, and the last century has just become the century of urbanization, which has influenced the lifestyle and the environment in general. Lack of breastfeeding, abuse of antibiotics and other medications, which ultimately weaken the general immune abilities of the body; plus a large amount of all kinds of chemistry that surrounds us literally from birth – all this is included in the price we pay for living in cities.For many of us, unfortunately, this price is complemented by the presence of allergy sufferers in the growing ranks.
The Znak.com editors would like to thank Natalia Abramova, the chief freelance specialist, allergist-immunologist of the Ministry of Health of the Chelyabinsk Region, Candidate of Medical Sciences, for the help in preparing the material.
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Food allergy in children – symptoms, treatment, diet
Food allergy in childhood
Rash, redness, mood swings – these are just a few of the symptoms that can accompany food allergies – an abnormal reaction of the immune system to any dish or its individual components.What are its causes, what are the risk factors, and what kind of food to choose in case of an allergic reaction – read this material.
Food Allergy Symptoms
The causes of food intolerances are related to the fact that the immune system “incorrectly” recognizes them as potentially dangerous, and produces an excess of protective antibodies. An overly violent reaction leads to the fact that the child is allergic to certain types of food. 1.3
Symptoms of food allergy in children are different.But most often food allergies are manifested by the skin – itching, feeling of tightness and dryness. Local edema may occur on the skin, a rash (urticaria), redness, blisters may appear. The second most frequent manifestation is reactions from the respiratory system. Runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough of varying intensity. Also, reactions from the organs of the gastrointestinal tract can indicate food allergies. Colic, dyspepsia, stool disturbances from diarrhea to constipation begin to disturb a very young child.Older children complain of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a scratching sensation in the throat, behind the breastbone.
Do not forget about the general symptoms of food allergies: the child becomes lethargic, capricious, does not sleep well, does worse in school (or psycho-emotional development), is prone to sleepiness during the day. 2.3
Causes of food allergy
Newborns and young children with a predisposition may suffer from allergies due to their physiological characteristics.The fact is that a child is born with an immature gastrointestinal tract, the intestinal walls are permeable to many substances, the enzyme system is still imperfect. Therefore, it is difficult for the body to cope with the digestion of proteins. The body seems to be in a state of constant “alert” and the ingress of even a small amount of allergens leads to a response from the immune system and the development of a violent allergic reaction. 1.2
In older children, many internal and external conditions become risk factors.For example, heredity – after all, if one of the parents of the child suffered from an allergic disease, then with a high degree of probability the baby will also have a tendency to it. Unfavorable environmental factors influence – polluted atmosphere, car exhaust, lack of green plants in cities. Very often, a dysfunction of the immune system in the form of an allergic reaction occurs in children with a labile, mobile psyche, with abrupt transitions from friendliness and calmness to crying and back.Finally, bad habits become an important factor, both in children and mothers during pregnancy. This is incorrectly introduced complementary foods and the early introduction of potentially allergenic foods into the child’s diet: citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate, berries, honey, and, of course, the children’s habit of eating only something tasty (usually unhealthy; chocolate, carbonated drinks, fast food ) 2.3.4
List of foods that provoke allergies
Due to the extreme individuality of the immune system, it is almost impossible to predict its response.However, there is an approximate list of foods, divided into groups depending on their allergenicity – that is, the ability to cause a sharp reaction from the immune system and allergy symptoms. It is important to remember that it is not at all necessary that any product from the first column will cause a reaction. Like any low-allergenic product, in some cases, it can cause an overreaction to it. 2.3.4
Examples of the most typical exoallergens
|Highly allergenic products||Products of medium allergenicity||Low allergy products|
|all citrus fruits, strawberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pineapples.||peaches, cranberries, lingonberries, cherries, blueberries, black currants.||pear, gooseberry, dried apricots, plums, white currants, apples and pears.|
|carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes.||potatoes, beets, peppers, peas, corn.||broccoli, green peas, zucchini, squash, white and cauliflower cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkin.|
|eggs, sausages and sausages, chicken, sea fish.||beef, rabbit, pork.||lamb.|
|whole cow’s milk, cheeses, yoghurts with additives.||fermented milk products.|
|wheat, rye.||buckwheat, oats, rice, peas, beans.||pearl barley, millet.|
|coffee, cocoa, chocolate, nuts, honey.||xylitol, fructose|
|mushrooms, carbonated drinks, packaged juices.||vegetable oil.|
How to protect your house from pollen
Previously, during the dusting season, it was possible to leave for another region, where the flowering of allergy provocateurs has ended or has not yet begun.During the period of self-isolation, this is problematic. However, you can create favorable conditions for allergy sufferers at home
Photo: New Africa / shutterstock
What is good for an ordinary person is bad for an allergic person.If many were looking forward to the onset of summer, then for a person suffering from allergies, May-June are the most dangerous months. Everything blooms, pollen flies, allergies intensify. It is quite difficult to avoid spring exacerbations.
Previously, for example, during the dusting season it was possible to leave for another region where the blooming of acute allergy provocateurs has ended or has not yet begun. During the period of self-isolation, this is problematic. However, you can create special conditions at home. Together with a doctor and an environmental expert, we will tell you how to do it.
Yes – wet cleaning, no – dust collectors
The first thing a person with an allergy should do is find out what exactly they are allergic to. The main sources of allergies in the house are dust mites, household chemicals, mold, pet hair, substances contained in poor-quality building materials, indoor flowers and plant pollen that is brought in from the street.
Based on the knowledge of what exactly a person has an allergic reaction to, we can talk about specific rules and recommendations.
General rules that every person prone to allergies should know about:
- ventilate the room regularly;
- Install an air purification system;
- Carry out wet cleaning at least twice a week;
- Look for eco-labels on goods and furniture;
- Perform a general indoor air analysis regularly;
- Use environmentally friendly materials for repairs;
- monitor the condition of indoor plants;
- Do not choose porous furnishings.
In the house where the allergic person lives, it is necessary to create such conditions that the dust has no chance of accumulation. To do this, you need to get rid of the dust collectors. No carpets or carpet, says the doctor. This is the main enemy of an allergy sufferer, otherwise the carpet will have to be cleaned twice a day, and wet cleaning.
For allergy sufferers, a clean room is a guarantee of good health. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out wet cleaning two to three times a week, during the flowering period it is better to do this every day, not allowing pollen to settle on the floor.Moreover, wet cleaning is preferable to cleaning with a vacuum cleaner, otherwise the vacuum cleaner must have a HEPA filter, said Andrey Kondrakhin, candidate of medical sciences, general practitioner, clinical pharmacologist.
Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych / shutterstock
When cleaning a room, it is important to pay attention to the composition of disinfectants and household chemicals – they can also cause allergies and irritation of mucous membranes.Products with fragrances, fragrances and chlorine are especially dangerous.
“Normal water is enough to remove dust. If we are talking about general cleaning of the room, then hypoallergenic cleaning products for the house must be used. When cleaning, it is better to work with gloves and a mask. Laundry soap or soda can be used as an alternative to household chemicals, ”noted the doctor.
Particular attention should be paid to the bathroom and toilet – fungus usually accumulates here, which can cause a strong allergic reaction.Therefore, it is recommended to treat the surfaces of these rooms with antifungal agents, paying special attention to the corners.
Furniture and textiles without down and feathers
In addition to carpets and floor coverings, furniture and interior items play a huge role in the everyday life of an allergy sufferer. “Any porous objects (upholstered furniture, curtains, carpets, bedspreads, pillows), as well as books and magazines accumulate dust, suspended particles, pollen and other allergens. Therefore, in the apartment of a person suffering from allergies, there should be as few such items as possible, ”said Sergey Sysoev, head of the department of independent environmental expertise of EcoStandard Group.
The number of textiles in the interior should be minimized; velvet, plush, corduroy and tweed should be excluded. Fillers for furniture, blankets, pillows and mattresses are best used from synthetic hypoallergenic materials, since dust mites settle in natural fillers (down, feathers, cotton wool), which provoke exacerbations in allergy sufferers.
It is better to choose bed linen from natural fabrics – cotton and linen, since the concentration of allergens in this case is low. It must be washed at a high temperature – above 60 degrees.
Photo: fizkes / shutterstock
It is also worth getting rid of old furniture.Sometimes, in its production, glue containing formaldehyde was used, which is dangerous for humans, especially for an allergy sufferer. The more chemical, artificial things are in the environment, the more the allergy manifests itself. Therefore, it is better to choose furniture and interior items made from natural materials – metal, wood. The latter is able to pick up excess moisture and humidify the room if necessary.
“Furniture made entirely of wood, bamboo, rattan, as well as upholstered furniture with natural leather or fabric upholstery can be considered environmentally friendly.The main safety condition is the absence of formaldehyde or other harmful substances in the composition, ”the ecologist added.
One of the pillars of allergy sufferers is the microclimate in the apartment. It is important to observe its optimal parameters: relative humidity in the range of 30–45%, temperature – 20–22 degrees. It is better to install devices that will help create a comfortable microclimate. These include humidifiers (humidify the air) and air purifiers with ionizers (pump and purify the air plus ionize).
“These devices are good for any person, and even more so for an allergy sufferer. Often, an allergic person has an inflammatory reaction in the bronchi and dryness of the mucous membranes. Thanks to the humidifier, pollen will fall on the floor, the air will become safe and humidified, ”noted Andrey Kondrakhin.
Air conditioners are also suitable, but with anti-allergenic and antibacterial filters. Some split systems have additional options – an air ionizer, a humidifying system, filters against allergens.Therefore, before installing air conditioners, you need to carefully study the annotation to them.
Photo: mansong suttakarn / shutterstock
It is recommended to equip windows with micro-ventilation with special anti-pollen filters.With them, fresh air from the street without pollen will enter the house. In the house of an allergic person, you can install a breather – a supply purifier for ventilation of any room with heating and air purification. It filters the air from the street from pollution and sends it into the room, thus ventilating it.
The robot vacuum cleaner will make life easier for allergy sufferers. He can carry out wet cleaning on his own, making his way to the farthest corners of the rooms and getting rid of dust.
“It is very important to carry out regular preventive maintenance of climatic equipment – this is cleaning and subsequent disinfection of internal surfaces and parts,” Sergei Sysoev pointed out.
“Forewarned is forearmed” is another rule of allergy sufferers. Special interactive maps (for example, pollen.club and gismeteo) help to follow it, which show how pollen migrates around the planet and what its level is in a certain area. This makes it possible for allergy sufferers to prepare and establish an anti-allergenic life. Now, for example, the pollen level in Moscow is estimated at four points (mainly due to the flowering of birch), which is an average value.
“Through these services, allergy sufferers receive information about the dangerous allergenic pollen in the air and the risks that await them. They can track where and what blooms, understand what awaits them in the near future, and get ready. Such cards are available in mobile applications, which is very convenient. These services should be used when traveling on vacation to other regions and countries, ”said the doctor.
Photo: Subbotina Anna / shutterstock
Animals, plants and allergies
Allergies can be caused by any pet – even fish in an aquarium, namely, their food.It usually contains small shellfish that can trigger severe allergies. It so happens that one breed of dog leads to allergies, while the other does not. Therefore, it is quite difficult to determine exactly whether an allergic person can live in an apartment with an animal, the doctor said. Therefore, before you get a cat, dog or hamster, it is better to consult a doctor and think things over.
Houseplants are also worth keeping an eye on. “On the one hand, the presence of indoor plants means an increase in oxygen concentration and aesthetic beauty.But at the same time, various microorganisms can develop on the soil or underlying substrate, which subsequently provoke allergic reactions, ”the ecologist explained.
If you plan to make repairs in the apartment where the allergic person lives, then it is recommended to use ecological materials. The repair itself during the exacerbation period (June-May) experts do not advise starting, it is better to postpone it until the fall, when the batteries are still disconnected – in the heat, the concentration of substances increases, which can cause a reaction.
Before that, you can get rid of old linoleum, polymer-coated wallpaper, plastic wall panels. It is better not to use lime whitewash, as lime is an allergen.
“When choosing building materials, you must remember that low-quality and cheap materials can often contain harmful substances that adversely affect our health, including causing allergic reactions,” explained Sergei Sysoev.
Photo: Photographee.eu / shutterstock
For the floor, you should choose natural boards, ceramic tiles or linoleum of eco-friendly brands, laminate with high water-repellent characteristics. It should be borne in mind that the floor will have to be washed frequently, so the material must be moisture resistant.
For ceilings and walls, water-based paint applied to putty or paintable wallpaper, paper wallpaper or wood paneling is suitable.Materials with a complex chemical composition are best avoided.
“In my practice, there was a family who bought an apartment, made repairs in it, but could not move in. The wife developed a strong allergy to the composition that was used when gluing the wallpaper – its concentration lasts up to ten years. I had to undergo therapy. Fortunately, the treatment helped, ”Andrei Kondrakhin said.
The main thing during an allergy exacerbation is not to panic, follow the general rules for keeping the house, remember to take seasonal medications, rinse the mucous membranes (nose, eyes) more often and take a shower.If there is a deterioration in the condition and the usual actions do not help, do not delay and consult a doctor.
Good to know about EGG ALLERGY (eggallergi)
EGG ALLERGY ( eggallergi )
Useful information on egg allergy – Norwegian Asthmatics and Allergy Association Fact Sheet
What is egg allergy?
An allergic reaction to eggs occurs due to the fact that the body reacts to certain types of proteins contained in eggs.Egg allergy is one of the most common in young children. Some have strong reactions even with a very small amount of eggs in their food, others have only a slight malaise, or the reaction occurs before the number of eggs consumed increases. Some react to touching eggs or to steam and smell. Egg allergy is more common in children than in adults. For most, egg allergy disappears with age, but for some people it persists into adulthood.
What reactions are caused by egg allergy?
The reaction of an allergic person who has consumed an egg-containing food product can be different. Examples include loose stools, abdominal pain, asthma attacks, worsening eczema, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock.
What does the body react to?
The reaction of the body is caused by proteins contained in both the yolk and the white of the egg. Some people react more strongly to egg proteins found in raw (unheated) eggs.For some allergy sufferers, a reaction in the form of an asthma attack and / or an allergic rhinitis can be caused by inhaling fumes from frying or boiling eggs. Sometimes the smell of fried waffles (steam containing egg and milk allergens) is enough for a reaction to occur.
How to treat egg allergy?
Treatment for food allergy consists of eliminating from the diet
foods that the body cannot tolerate.
Where is the egg kept?
Names such as egg white, yolk, egg powder can indicate the content of eggs in food.Sometimes names such as albumin or egg lysozymes are also given.
Foods that often contain eggs include cakes, biscuits, condiments, sauces, mayonnaise and salads containing eggs, mustard, spaghetti, pasta, waffles, pancakes, filled chocolate coconut balls, candy, breadcrumbs and casseroles.
It is important to read the list of ingredients carefully before using the product. According to the Dairy Labeling Guidelines, all egg products must be labeled accordingly in the ingredient list.This also applies to unpackaged food sold in stores, restaurants, canteens, and other locations.
Some food products are labeled “Possible trace of egg products”. This does not mean that eggs were added to the product, but particles of the egg products may have entered the product during the manufacturing process. Most egg allergy sufferers tolerate the presence of traces of egg products to a certain extent and can eat foods with the above labeling.
What can you eat if you are allergic to eggs?
Eggs are nutrient-rich, but they are also optional for a healthy diet.An allergy to eggs entails, first of all, practical difficulties, since it leads to a restriction in the choice of cakes, cookies, semi-finished products, etc. Eggs have properties that are important for making good baked goods. They are a good binder and improve the proving process.
Egg replacers such as No Egg and Egg Replacer can be found in stores, which have similar binding and other properties required for baking, but differ in nutrient composition.Before use, the egg replacer is mixed with water and whipped. In many cases, a good and cheap replacement for an egg can be obtained by increasing the amount of baking powder or baking soda. One egg can be replaced with one tablespoon of baking powder. By adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal, you can get the same golden dough color as when using eggs.
In addition, the vast majority of pastries made from yeast dough, jellies, chocolate sauces, frozen juice, sherbet, fruits and berries do not contain egg elements and are excellent desserts and festive dishes.