An allergic reaction occurs when your body overreacts to something that is usually considered harmless, such as pollen, dust, or certain types of food. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe, and in some people, they can become life threatening if not treated quickly and appropriately.
Antibodies are created by the immune system (the body’s defense system) to fight off foreign substances to prevent you from getting sick. However, sometimes, the body identifies a substance as being harmful, even though it isn’t, causing your immune system to overreact. This is known as an allergic reaction, and the substances that cause an allergic reaction are known as allergens.
What Can Cause an Allergy?
Allergies are very common and can affect anyone – they can also be hereditary. The most common allergens include:
- Tree and/or grass pollen (hay fever)
- Insect stings
- Certain foods (such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and shellfish)
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Medications (such as antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), chemotherapy drugs, and insulin)
Allergic Reaction Symptoms
When the body detects something perceived as harmful, it releases histamine, which causes the blood vessels to expand and the skin to swell, helping to protect the body. For people with allergies, histamine can cause an allergic reaction with a range of unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Localized or generalized itching (pruritus)
- Hives/skin rashes
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
In severe cases, an allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, which, if left untreated, can be life threatening. Food allergies and insect venom allergies are the main causes of anaphylaxis.
Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- Swelling around the mouth, throat, tongue, or face
- Acute itchiness of the eyes or face
- Trouble breathing
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Red rash
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Effective Allergic Reaction Treatment
There are a range of treatments available that can help relieve allergy symptoms. The best choice of treatment will depend on factors such as the type and severity of your allergy, your age, and personal preferences. Limiting exposure to certain allergens can help minimize or prevent allergy symptoms, such as reducing outdoor activities during pollen season if you have a pollen allergy.
The most popular and effective allergic reaction treatments include:
Nasal Saline Irrigation Devices
Nasal saline irrigation is a simple and effective over-the-counter sinus rinse treatment that uses saline solution to help clear allergens, debris, or mucus trapped inside the nasal passages. Devices can include sprays, squeeze bottles, and neti pots.
If you suffer with mildallergic reaction symptoms, these can often be treated successfully with over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays. Antihistamines are medications that work to block the effects of histamine produced in the body. They can be used to relieve allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing and skin rashes.They are effective for allergies such as hay fever, insect stings, and pet, dust, and skin allergies.
If you have a blocked nose, over-the-counter decongestants can help clear your nose and sinuses, but these medications should only be used short-term, as long-term use can lead to side effects.
Prescription medications and nasal sprays may be recommended to address specific symptoms or to treat more severe symptoms. Epinephrine auto-injectors (such as the EpiPen)require a prescription. Epinephrine is typically the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.
In some cases, the causes of an allergic reaction can also trigger asthma symptoms, such as pollen or dust mites. Asthma medications, such as rescue inhalers (that immediately treat asthma symptoms) or control inhalers (that help prevent asthma symptoms) may be recommended depending on the asthma triggers identified.
Biologic therapy is a type of therapeutic treatment that uses substances derived from living organisms to treat conditions, such as immunologic diseases. They are used to prevent inflammation or keep the immune system from overreacting in the first place and work by precisely targeting specific molecules involved in an allergic response. Biologics canalso prevent inflammation of the airways to relieve asthma symptoms.
Immunotherapy is a safe and effective allergy treatment for adults and children ages5 and olderthat involves gradually increasing exposure to an allergen while under medical supervision. This may include oral immunotherapy (OIT) or allergy shots. Gradually repeating exposure to an allergen helps desensitize the body, resulting in a tolerance or immunity to that allergen. Oral immunotherapy is typically for people with a food intolerance,while allergy shots are used for a variety of allergies, including hay fever, pet allergies, dust mites, and stinging insects.
If you suspect you have allergies, you should visit a board-certified allergist who can help diagnose your allergies with tests, such as skin prick tests and blood tests. They can then help determine the best course of treatment to treat your allergy symptoms effectively.
Allergic Reaction Treatment in Northeast Illinois
If you have allergies,visit Oak Brook Allergists for the effective care and treatment you deserve. Our dedicated allergy specialists provide complete allergy and asthma healthcare for patients of all ages. We offer a wide range of diagnostic testing and treatments, including oral immunotherapy, medications,and allergy shots.
To learn more about our services or to schedule a visit, call us at (630) 574-0460 today. You can also request your appointment online now. For your convenience, we offer extended and weekend hours at our four office locations,allowing you to get the care you need right away.