Posts for: January, 2020
Does springtime leave you sneezing, coughing and peering at the world through watery eyes? Does your tongue seem to swell up when eating certain foods? If you said yes then you very well could be dealing with allergies, and you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans deal with allergies. If you suspect that you could be dealing with allergies, an allergist can help diagnose and treat your symptoms.
Types of Allergies and Their Symptoms
While people can develop allergies to just about anything the most common allergies include:
Food- If you are allergic to a certain food you may notice swelling or tingling in the mouth or lips, as well as hives. Common food allergies include shellfish, tree nuts, cow’s milk, eggs, soy and wheat.
Pollen- Sometimes referred to as “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis, pollen allergies usually cause those classic seasonal allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.
Pets- If you suddenly experience an itchy throat, nasal congestion, water eyes or a runny nose after playing with the family cat or dog you could very possibly have a pet allergy.
Mold- A mold allergy causes a lot of the same symptoms that pollen does including sneezing, postnasal drip, stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Latex- When exposed to latex you may develop wheezing, hives, chest tightness, trouble breathing or a runny nose.
Insect stings and bites- This allergy can have potentially dangerous side effects depending on the severity of the allergy. Common symptoms include swelling of the affected area, widespread hives, chest tightness, wheezing and anaphylaxis.
Drug- A drug allergy can cause serious symptoms such as facial swelling, wheezing and chest tightness, hives and rash. It’s important that you seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms after taking any kind of drug.
There are certain types of allergies that are more likely to cause a severe and possibly life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. It’s important to call 911 if you experience these symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Difficulty breathing
- Weak pulse
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
An allergist will perform a simple skin prick or blood test to determine the type of allergies you have. Once we have figured out what is causing your symptoms then we can create a treatment plan that will help you manage your symptoms. While some people may outgrow their allergies others will need to follow a treatment plan for the rest of their lives.
Some ways to treat allergies include:
- Lifestyle modifications (e.g. avoiding triggers; allergy-proofing your home)
- Immunotherapy (aka: allergy shots)
- EpiPen (emergency epinephrine used to treat severe allergic reactions)
If allergy symptoms have you feeling crummy for several months out of the year then it’s time to talk with an allergy specialist who can help you get your symptoms under control.
Immune deficiencies result from your immune system not functioning properly, causing chronic infections that can be severe and long lasting. Your body’s immune system can’t defend your body against viruses, bacteria, or a fungal infection, putting your body at risk of dangerous medical conditions and diseases.
Immune system deficiencies can happen due to having a debilitating medical condition like cancer, or they can have a genetic cause. They can also be caused by prolonged use of an immunosuppressive medication.
There are two types of immune deficiency disorders which include:
- Primary; those that are present at birth and are hereditary. There are over 100 primary immunodeficiency disorders. Primary immune deficiencies are caused by genetic mutations and are categorized under which part of the immune system is involved.
- Secondary; those that develop later as a result of a medical condition like diabetes, cancer, or HIV. They can also develop from the use of immunosuppressive medications, or from radiation therapy. Secondary immune deficiencies are much more common that primary deficiencies.
Immune deficiencies are more common in older people because the immune system is weakened and less effective. Poor nutrition in seniors is also a contributing factor which can impair the immune system. Weight loss combined with age causes the immune system to not function as well, especially if the weight lost results in a person weighing 70 to 80 percent of their normal weight. Frequent hospitalizations of seniors can also result in immune deficiencies.
People who have immune deficiencies often suffer severe respiratory infections which tend to linger. Bacterial infections can lead to more serious medical conditions like pneumonia. Eye, mouth, and digestive tract infections also occur frequently in people with immune deficiencies.
Diagnosis of an immune deficiency is by testing the blood, to determine the type of immune deficiency. Depending on the type of immune deficiency, treatment can include:
- Antibiotics to help prevent and treat any underlying infection
- Immune globulin to help increase antibody production and improve antibody function
- Stem cell transplantation for severe immune deficiency cases
Immune deficiencies can dramatically affect your ability to stay healthy, so it’s important to seek out treatment if you suspect you have immune system problems. To find out more about immune deficiencies, talk with your asthma and allergy specialist today!