The immune system is the body’s defense against harmful substances that cause infection and disease. While necessary to survival, the immune system may sometimes overreact to environmental stimuli and cause problems through its own inflammatory response. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless foreign substance, called an allergen. One person’s immune system may identify such a substance as harmful even though the majority of people have no reaction. When this happens the immune system generates antibodies to this substance that cause an inflammatory reaction whenever one encounters the allergen. The severity of the allergic response varies greatly from one person to the next. It can range from mild irritation to a severe life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis.

Allergies tend to run in families and are more common in those who have a close family member with allergies or asthma. Children are more likely to develop allergies than adults and sometimes a person may outgrow childhood allergies as they get older. Having certain conditions such as asthma and eczema predispose to allergies. Also, having one kind of allergy increases the likelihood that you may be allergic to other things.


Allergy symptoms depend on the type of allergy. Seasonal allergies cause hay fever symptoms including runny nose, sneezing and red eyes. Food allergies may cause a rash like hives and swelling around the lips. Atopic dermatitis or eczema causes a red, flaky and itchy rash. Severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis may cause swelling in the throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. People who have a history of anaphylaxis may carry an epinephrine auto-injector to take during a severe reaction. It is important to keep in mind that even with the use of an auto-injector, anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and needs urgent evaluation at a hospital emergency department.

Diagnosis and Seasonal Allergies Treatment
The diagnosis of allergies is often based on a careful history obtained by the doctor. Certain tests such as skin testing and blood tests may confirm the presence of allergies. Once diagnosed the treatment of allergies depends on the type and severity. Mild allergies are often treated with allergen avoidance and medications including nasal sprays and eye drops. More severe allergies may require referral to an allergy specialist who can use immunotherapy to desensitize the immune system to a particular allergen. For people with a history of severe allergies or anaphylaxis an epinephrine auto-injector is given for emergencies.
How PlushCare Works
1. Answer a few quick questions about your allergy symptoms. 2. A customized allergy bloodwork panel is ordered by a PlushCare doctor, and you can go in locally to have your blood drawn. 3. Have a visit with a PlushCare physician to help understand your results. Treating allergies includes knowing what you are allergic to, so that you can get on the right treatment.