Allergies: Awareness, Prevention, and Symptom Relief

Allergies

Allergies are a case of mistaken identity. The allergic reaction that you may experience when you come in contact with certain foods or materials is actually a dysfunctional immune response. Your immune system wrongly identifies otherwise harmless substances as invasive and problematic. This triggers a physical response, closing your airways, inducing nausea or vomiting, causing skin irritation, or raising your blood pressure among many others. The severity of the reaction you experience can be completely unique to you, ranging from very mild to very deadly.

The team of professionals at Family Medicine Austin aims to inform patients about the variety of allergies and symptoms that are out there, as well as test screening and treatment methods. Preventative action and planning are extremely important for patients with allergies, especially if your reaction is life-threatening.

Different Types of Allergies

Allergic reactions may be caused by several different allergens and substances, typically broken down into these three categories:

  • Ingested allergies cause a reaction when a substance is eaten/drank.
    • Dairy
    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Fruit
    • Seafood
  • Contact allergies initiate an allergic response simply by coming in contact with your skin.
    • Soaps/detergents
    • Hair dies
    • Jewelry
    • Polishes
  • Inhaled allergies are the most common type of allergy and are difficult to avoid/prevent. Airborne allergens are mostly invisible and your symptoms will alert you to the developing reaction.
    • Fungi
    • Mold
    • Pet dander
    • Dust mites

Allergy Signs and Symptoms 

If your blood pressure suddenly drops without the onset of other symptoms, that may indicate anaphylaxis, which can occur with or without the formation of skin hives. According to the NIH, between 0.5% and 2% of the general population experiences some form of anaphylaxis. The most life-threatening aspects of allergic reactions are:

  • Trouble breathing due to constricted airways (including triggering a severe asthma attack).
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure resulting in dizzy/light-headedness, weakness, or passing out.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis generally include two or more of the following body systems:

  • Skin: hives, swelling (face, lips, tongue), itching, warmth, redness
  • Respiratory: coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion. runny/itchy nose, eyes watering, sneezing, difficulty swallowing
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Cardiovascular: pale complexion/blue skin, weak pulse, fainting, dizziness, shock.
  • Other: anxiety, headache, metallic taste

Allergy Prevention and Planning

Doing what you can to prevent exposure to allergic substances or getting comprehensive testing to understand the full scope of your allergy profile is incredibly important. Something as simple as getting an allergy test could potentially save you or your child’s life. Once you are aware of what substances you are allergic to, you can make an effort to avoid them!

Another aspect of allergy management is preparing for emergencies and how to respond at the moment. If you experience serious allergic reactions, especially those that induce anaphylaxis, you need to have an EpiPen accessible at all times. Even with the best prevention and planning, accidents do happen and EpiPens can actually be the thing that saves your life as paramedics arrive. If you have a serious allergy, you should consider putting together a plan for emergency situations.

How Does Family Medicine Austin Test for Allergies?

For most types of allergies, our practitioners will recommend a skin test. During this test, we will make several small scratches on your skin. We will then place a drop of different possible allergens in each scratch to see how your immune system reacts. This test can determine which particular substances are causing your symptoms so you can get the best possible treatment.

What Treatment Options are Available?

With some allergens, you may be able to deal with the problem simply by avoiding the substance. However, other allergens, such as airborne substances, are unavoidable. Some allergies respond well to antihistamine medication, but every person reacts differently. 

However, if you continue to have symptoms with medication, immunotherapy may be recommended. In that case, you’ll be treated with a purified form of specific allergens over a period of several months. That will help build your tolerance and result in experiencing fewer symptoms down the road.

Allergy Testing and Treatment Available in Austin, Texas

Family Medicine Austin offers our patients allergy testing to help them gain awareness and better manage allergy symptoms. By understanding the scope of your allergies, you are better equipped to avoid those substances and avoid potentially life-threatening situations. Millions of people with allergies live happy, full lives. Don’t let your allergies hold you back from doing the things you love. Call our offices to speak with a representative from our team or schedule an appointment online today!

Written by Family Medicine Austin