The number of things you can be allergic to seems to grow every day. Most of us had never even heard of a gluten allergy until a friend started talking about how much better they feel since they cut it out of their diet.
The following are the most common types of allergies. Each type has its own set of symptoms, which can range from mild to life threatening. The severity and range of symptoms experienced depend on your sensitivity and the amount of allergens involved.
This is a broad term typically used to refer to allergies to molds and pollens from different trees, grasses and ragweed. Since plants in Houston, Texas grow and flower at different times of the year and molds grow better in different weather conditions, you may only experience symptoms during certain seasons. Typically, you will experience:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Itchy nose and roof of the mouth
- Postnasal drip
These symptoms are very similar to the common cold. The major difference is that a cold will include a low-grade fever and last only a week.
Allergies to dogs and cats are the most common pet allergy. You are not allergic to the animal itself; rather, you are allergic to the allergens the animal produces. These allergens are usually found in the animal’s hair, dander, saliva and urine. Common symptoms to these allergens are:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Facial pain
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Skin rash or hives
Insect Sting Allergy
An allergy to insect stings goes far beyond the pain associated with the stings themselves. Typical symptoms of this type of allergy include:
A life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can also occur. Anaphylaxis typically includes trouble breathing, vomiting, low blood pressure, fainting and cardiac arrest. An immediate injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) is the only treatment for this reaction.
Honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants are the five known insects to cause an allergic reaction. Anyone who has experienced a reaction to a sting in the past is at risk of experiencing a worse reaction in the future.
While any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that account for almost 90 percent of all food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.
The symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to life threatening. Mild symptoms include:
- Itchy mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Htomach pain
Severe symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat, shortness of breath and turning blue. Any one of these severe symptoms or a combination of mild symptoms can be the sign of a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. In the event of this reaction, epinephrine should be administered and the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately.
This type of allergy is one of the hardest for Houston allergists to predict. Often, individuals will be fine with a medication and then have a reaction the next time they take it.
Penicillin and antibiotics containing sulfa drugs are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction. The symptoms of a drug allergy can range from a mild skin reaction and itching to more severe wheezing, vomiting or anaphylaxis.
This is just a sampling of the variety of allergies that exist. For more information, contact your local Houston allergist.