Allergies are widespread – you’re probably hard-pressed to think of someone in your own life who doesn’t get a little sniffly during spring and summer! But what exactly are allergies, and are there any ways to treat common allergy symptoms?
To answer this, we’ll take a deeper dive into allergies overall, as well as examine where they come from and what you can do to avoid the worst symptoms. Whether you’re experiencing an allergic reaction to allergens for the first time or if you are regular, the below will help you stay on top of your allergies this year.
What Are Allergies, Exactly?
An allergy is a reaction that occurs when your body’s immune system overreacts to a substance because it thinks, rightly or wrongly, that the substance in question is harmful.
For example, one of the most common allergic reactions in humans is a reaction to pollen. Most allergic reactions occur in response to allergens (the primary cause of allergies) that are typically harmless, like regular flower pollen.
Your immune system detects the pollen in the air after breathing it in and mistakes the pollen as a foreign, hostile agent. It then kicks up an over-the-top response such as sneezing, a swollen throat, a fever, and other symptoms, all because it is trying to defend your body.
Unfortunately, medical science isn’t at the point where we can fully treat people’s allergies. Instead, we have to learn to live with any allergic reactions our bodies are primed for by avoiding the allergens in question or by knowing how to treat an allergic reaction at the moment.
Our immune systems can be tricked into experiencing an allergic reaction due to many different allergen types that are typically considered harmless substances, including:
- Drug allergy that can be triggered by prescription medications and some over-the-counter medications that include certain ingredients our immune systems may read as dangerous
- Food allergies such as tree nuts (peanuts), lactose, gluten, etc. These are considered common food allergies.
- Latex and other synthetic materials like certain types of rubber
- Insect venom, ranging from bee stings to ant bites to spider bites and more
- High pollen counts from various plant species, particularly if you breathe it in
- Mold and other fungi
- Dust mites
- Pet dander or animal dander, including hair, urine, or saliva
That’s a ton of allergens! Different types of allergies vary upon the person. Chances are you’re mildly allergic to at least one of the things on this list. Most people are mildly allergic to plant pollen, although their reactions don’t usually become more intense than some sneezing or watery eyes.
Speaking of sneezing, you should know about the symptoms of allergies so you can tell when you or someone else is having an allergic reaction.
Most people get mild allergy symptoms, including:
- Sore throat
- Wet or itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
However, people can also have topical or skin-based allergic reactions like rashes or hives. These usually occur when the allergen in question touches your skin, although it can also happen when you consume something you’re allergic to, such as peanut oil.
Although most people are not deathly allergic to allergens, some allergic reactions can be dangerous or even fatal. The most severe allergy symptoms can include anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening reaction characterized by swelling in the mouth and throat along with difficulty breathing.
Anaphylaxis is a type of allergic reaction to a medication, food, and animal venom from an insect sting. It is considered a severe allergic reaction. The FDA suggests reading food labels before eating to prevent potential allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions can happen when you least expect them to and can be life-threatening.
Are Allergies Always Dangerous?
No. But it’s important to identify any potential serious allergens in your life and avoid those allergens at all costs. Most people discover that they are dangerously allergic to one or more allergens by accident, then take steps afterward to avoid being exposed again. For instance, some people discover they are allergic to bee stings after getting stung by a bee as a child.
You might also get tested for allergies based on genetic factors in your family. If everyone in your family is allergic to peanuts, for example, you may be as well, and getting tested ahead of time can prevent you from having to endure a trip to the emergency room.
Allergy Treatment Options
Fortunately, most allergies don’t require a trip to the hospital in the vast majority of cases. The best way to relieve allergies is to prevent exposure to the allergens in question and use home remedies.
The prevention method is fairly straightforward. Just keep track of and stay away from any allergens you’re aware of!
The trick will be avoiding allergens in your everyday life. If you’re ever in the hospital, your healthcare provider will ask you if you are allergic to anything and will avoid giving you specific allergens if necessary.
- Saltwater nasal washes. These are perfect for clearing out your sinuses and nasal cavities to break up mucus and ease any swelling: key symptoms for common allergens like pollen and animal fur. Just make three teaspoons of salt with one teaspoon of baking soda, then add one teaspoon of the resulting mixture with 8 ounces or one cup of lukewarm water. You can then spray the mixture into your nostrils
- Acupuncture can be a great way to relieve tension in your muscles, ease swelling, and reduce mild pain or aches from allergies
- Honey is a great soothing ingredient if your throat is irritated or dry from coughing due to allergic reactions. Take the honey plain or add it to hot tea or water for maximum effect
Allergies and Your Immune System
If you have allergies, you have probably gone through painful testing or used harmful medications but the occurrence of allergies is linked to your immune system. So it’s important to build your immune system up naturally. For more natural remedies, check out Seasonal Allergies (Natural Remedies). Including Vitamin D and Probiotics along with cutting down on sugar, dairy, and carbs can help boost your immune system and even lessen or prevent the occurence of allergies. A nasal spray such as Silver Serum or saline spray may help with seasonal allergies symptoms that affect your sinuses. You might also consider Allergen Support which is designed to help support and counteract some of the main symptoms and immune reactions associated with environmental allergies.†
All in all, allergies are something we all have to live with to some extent. But with the right preventative strategies and some helpful home remedies on hand, you’ll be able to handle allergies whenever they crop up throughout the year.
Dr. Livingood, yes that is his real name, is the Founder of drlivingood.com natural health site and also the founder of Livingood Daily. He has authored two Amazon #1 Best Selling Books Livingood Daily and Make Food Simple. In 2007 after nearly losing his father to health conditions, Dr. Livingood was prompted to find a health care system to save his father’s life. Where medicine failed Dr. Livingood discovered solutions that got his father off 15 medications and overcame major heart and autoimmune conditions. As a Doctor of Natural Medicine and DC he now serves thousands of people in Morrisville, NC, and millions through his online and media presence. Dr. Livingood, his wife Jessica, and three kids spend their lives leading people nationally and locally in the hopes that others can experience real health.