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.
WHO IS AT RISK?
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.
SEASONAL ALLERGIES SYMPTOMS
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.