Do you experience allergy symptoms, even long after pollen season is over? Allergies are uncomfortable and frustrating, and getting to the bottom of what is causing your symptoms is key to finding relief. Below are some strategies for tracking your allergy symptoms that may help you pinpoint the source of your suffering.
Understand What Causes Allergies
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for the more than 50 million Americans, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, certain foods, mold and insect stings as a dangerous intruder. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Know Your Symptoms
Most of us are familiar with the itchy eyes, sinus pressure and sneezing associated with an allergy attack, but there are other symptoms you may not be attributing to your allergies. These include:
- Tight chest
- Feeling weak or faint
- Hives (small bumps that look like bug bites)
- Itchy, dry or red skin patches
- Odd taste in mouth
- Stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swollen lips, tongue or throat
- Trouble swallowing
One type of allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, is life-threatening. It affects several areas of the body at once, oftentimes the skin, nose, mouth and gut. It can also cause trouble breathing and a drop in blood pressure. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911. If you have an Epi pen, use it also.
Some allergens – like pollen – occur seasonally, making them easier to pinpoint. However, some allergens – like dust mites and mold – occur year-round.
Pay attention to what is around you when you have symptoms. If you feel fine in your home office but suddenly experience symptoms after doing laundry or taking a bath, there may be hidden mold in those areas triggering symptoms. If you function just fine at home with your cat but have symptoms at your friend’s house who owns a dog, you’re probably allergic to dog dander.
It is helpful to keep a log of what your symptoms are and what environments you experience them in. Once you identify patterns, it is easier to pinpoint the source. For more information or to schedule an allergy test, call the experts at ENT & Allergy Partners today.