Allergies
Young girl using tissue

Allergies

Allergies

Approximately 50 million American suffer from some type of allergies, which are your body’s immune response to the environment or something you come into contact with. 

What Causes Allergies?

When your body views harmless substances—known as allergens— as foreign or invaders, it reacts to the allergens by mounting a wall of protection against them. As an immune response, your body creates cells that produce histamines which trigger the common allergy reactions such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, etc. that many of us battle on a seasonal or long-term basis.  Allergies can affect our eyes, nose, sinuses, throat, skin and digestive system. 

Allergy Symptoms

From mild to severe, our body’s reaction to these allergens can affect the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery or Itchy Eyes
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Throat Tightness
  • Upset Stomach or Vomiting
  • Fainting or Passing Out
  • Skin Rashes/Hives – Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema 
  • Anaphylaxis – This is a severe and possibly life-threatening allergy reaction and requires an immediate medical injection of epinephrine and trip to the emergency room. 

Common Allergy Triggers

Airborne allergens: There are at least 34 airborne allergens in Southwest Minnesota. Common airborne allergens include: tree pollen, plant pollen, pets, dust mites, mold and cockroaches. Looking at the chart below, you can see when certain tree and plant pollens are at their peak in the Midwest Allergy Zone.

Food: Food allergies affect 4-6% of children and 4% of adults. They are most common in babies and children but can develop at age. Common foods that trigger allergic reactions include: milk (cow), eggs,  peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. 

Insect Bites & Stings.  When stung by a bee or wasp, most people, including children, have redness, swelling and an itchy reaction. An insect bite or sting can cause a venomous reaction which is very serious.

Medications.  Any medication can cause an allergy reaction but the most common include penicillin and penicillin-based antibiotics.

Chemicals & Irritants. There are many products we use everyday or are exposed to that can trigger an allergic response which include laundry detergent, perfumes, cigarette smoke and air pollutants such as car exhaust. In addition materials like latex can cause an allergic skin reaction. 

Asthma Triggers and Allergens

The Link Between Asthma & Allergies

Asthma is a respiratory condition of the lungs that causes difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing (whistling, squeaky sound) and/or chest tightness. Allergic asthma is a condition that affects nearly 60% of those who have asthma. It occurs when those pesky allergens trigger someone’s asthma symptoms. 

Allergies or Cold? There's An Allergy Blood Test!

Often, common cold symptoms are very similar to allergy symptoms. To confirm whether or not someone is suffering from a common cold or allergies, a simple allergy blood test can be done to clarify the cause of your symptoms, especially if the symptoms don’t go away and/or recur.

How Can You Treat Allergies?

There are many over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate allergy symptoms which contain antihistamines and nasal decongestants. Allergists may also prescribe allergy shots for those who have severe allergies.

We encourage you to speak to your healthcare provider for guidance on medications that are a good fit for your symptoms and to consult them if your medications aren’t working to provide allergy relief.