Dangerous Allergies? An Expert Gives Tips to Protect Yourself

MONDAY, April 1, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Allergic reactions can range from mild sneezing to life-threatening episodes where the throat closes and the airways tighten.

That’s why people need to prepare themselves for any potential allergies they might have, said Dr. Sanjiv Sur, director and professor of allergy medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Everyone should undergo an allergy test to learn what allergens affect them, Sur said.

These tests can tell what kinds of pollen, mold, animal dander, food and even medications will incite an allergic response, and predict the severity of that reaction.

People with allergies to pollens, mold and animal dander typically can receive allergy shots to help alleviate their reactions.

These shots train the immune system to become accustomed to the animal protein that causes the reaction.

However, the process takes about six months to show any benefit, and must be maintained for three to four years to have a sustained effect.

On the other hand, people with allergies to foods and medication are best advised to simply avoid the triggering substance, Sur said.

“People with food or medicine allergies typically react more severely than those with just seasonal allergies,” Sur said in a Baylor news release. “If you experience a severe allergic reaction, it is always a good idea to let your primary care physician or allergist know that you experienced an event.”

Mild reactions to food or drugs can be treated with an over-the-counter histamine, but severe reactions might require an epinephrine injection, Sur said.

The injection can be administered to the outer thigh. People should call 911 following such a shot, to make sure the stricken person recovers.

Airborne allergens like pollen, mold and pet dander typically cause milder symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes, Sur said.

However, they can also prompt asthma attacks or exacerbations of other lung ailments, Sur said. People with those illnesses might need an inhaler to reduce airway inflammation and restore normal breathing.

“What you are allergic to and how serious of a reaction you will have can change over time, so if you believe this happening to you, make an appointment with an allergist to get confirmation,” Sur said.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about allergies.

SOURCE: Baylor College of Medicine, news release, March 28, 2024

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