Allergies are an autoimmune reaction to a substance (allergen) which can cause a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from a mild itch to anaphylactic shock. People can come into contact with an allergen through inhalation, consumption, or skin contact.

Although environmental factors do contribute, genetics are the major cause in the development of allergies —meaning that the susceptibility to suffering from allergies is generally hereditary. Usually symptoms develop from a young age and can manifest into adulthood. Symptoms of allergies come and go depending on exposure to triggers.  

Allergies Symptoms
Many people around the world experience allergies from triggers such as food and insect stings, among many others.

Common symptoms of allergies include:
  • Sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip (excessive mucus which runs from the back of the nose to the throat)
  • Cold symptoms that don't go away, coughing, frequent sinus infection 
  • Itchy, watery eyes, frequent rubbing of the eyes
  • Skin rash, dry skin (especially around the child's elbows, joints, knees, and torso)
  • Hives (urticaria)
  • Asthma, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, and coughing
  • Allergy Skin Test – This method is the most common, as it is known to be very accurate and consistent with symptoms; results are available in just about 20 minutes. Additionally, the results of allergy skin tests are also used to decide which allergy vaccine a patient should receive. With this method, small drops of an allergen extract are applied to the skin. The surface of the skin is then pricked in order to allow the allergen to be absorbed into the skin.    
  • Blood TestThis method is used less frequently than the skin test. It is used in circumstances where skin tests cannot be utilized; for example, in patients who have a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic shock), or in patients with severe rash where there is not enough unaffected skin for a skin test to be performed. In some cases, the results of a blood test must also be confirmed using an allergy skin test as well. 
  • Medication - Nowadays, allergy medications are highly effective and are available to be taken orally or in the form of nasal sprays.  
    • Oral MedicationsAntihistamines are highly effective and are long-acting for up to 12-24 hours. Medications in this group do not cause drowsiness.
    • Nasal Sprays – Medications in this group are effective when they are used continuously. They work well in reducing swelling and inflammation of the nasal membranes as well as reducing complications of sinusitis.
  • Allergy Vaccinations (Allergy Shots) – Also known as immunotherapy, nowadays, allergy vaccines are able to be given through shots or sublingually (oral medications). The idea behind immunotherapy is to build up a tolerance to the allergens we are allergic to. The process involves a series of shots or sublingual medications for a total of three years.

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