Have you been suffering from a prolonged case of the sniffles? Do your eyes constantly water and itch? Have you been coughing and sneezing so much that nobody wants to come close for fear of catching something icky? The good news is that you’re probably not contagious. The bad news is that you might have allergies.
Allergies occur when we inhale, touch, ingest, or otherwise come into contact with substances known as “allergens”. Different substances trigger different people; for example, one person might be allergic to pet dander, and another might be allergic to pollen. One thing all allergens have in common is that they provoke an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to them. While most people develop a tolerance to most substances, allergic individuals are continually prone to all or some of these annoying symptoms:
o Skin rashes or hives
o Itchy, watery eyes
o Itchy nose or scratchy throat
o Shortness of breath or wheezing
o Anaphylaxis (in severe cases)
An anaphylactic reaction is a serious, sometimes life-threatening reaction to allergens. Victims of anaphylaxis experience swelling, dangerously low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. A reaction of this sort requires immediate medical aid.
Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold commonly cause allergic reactions. Sometimes our bodies have an adverse reaction to the foods we eat. Though they produce symptoms similar to allergies, these reactions are considered food intolerances. There is no immune system involvement during a food intolerance, but sufferers usually experience gastrointestinal distress.
Dealing with Allergies
Anti-histamines are commonly prescribed to treat allergies. But these drugs can cause drowsiness or restlessness in the user. Rather than depending on chemicals to ward off their allergies, more people are now turning to natural alternatives. Citrus fruits have a natural antihistamine effect. So do onions and garlic. Since allergens settle around the home, many people endeavor to clean, dust, wash bed linens, and vacuum once a week. Others plan their outdoor activities around the pollen count; if it’s high, they stay home. Allergies can play havoc on nasal passages and sinus cavities, so many allergy sufferers try to improve the quality of the air they breathe by installing air filters and setting up dehumidifiers. Still others find relief with saline nasal washes.
If you’ve got allergies, experiment with the solutions presented above to find the one that works best for you. Some changes are easy to incorporate, while others might be a challenge. Once you find relief, though, you’ll agree that the time and effort were well worth it.