An allergy is, put simply, a physical reaction to a substance in or near the human body. A person’s allergies are typically genetic, and they are predisposed to experience particular reactions and symptoms if particular substances are ingested, inhaled, or even just nearby. Many allergies are food allergies, which are set off when the person eats something in particular such as a certain plant or even any food with particular chemicals in it. In some cases, just putting the food in one’s mouth is enough to set off an allergy. In other cases, an allergy is to plants or their pollen, and this commonly causes an allergy or asthma attack. Many Americans suffer from allergies to plant pollen or ragweed, for example. And what is more, airborne particles such as dust and VOCs may set off or worsen an allergy or asthma, and people exposed to many airborne particles may develop asthma or an allergy over time. Someone who wants medication for their allergy or asthma may visit an allergist in their area, with an allergist being a doctor who specializes in medical treatment of (and prevention of) allergies and asthma.
Americans and Allergies
What is there to know about the substances that cause allergies in kids and adults today? This is a common problem, with many Americans having one or more allergies or asthma conditions for years or their entire lives. It is believed that just over 50 million American citizens have experienced one or more various types of allergies each year, and what is more, these allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States today. Ragweed in particular is a common allergy, and studies suggest that as many as 10-20% of all Americans suffer from this allergy per year. Meanwhile, about 8.4% of American children aged 18 and under suffer from hay fever, another typical allergy.
It’s not just plants that cause these allergies. Food allergies are fairly common too, which may restrict what sort of foods a person might eat. Tree nut and peanut allergies are among the most common of these, where a person may suffer serious reactions if they ingest or even touch peanuts, walnuts, and the like. Some fruits may cause allergies too, such as bananas or strawberries or blueberries. A person with food allergies may carefully read the ingredients of food items to ensure that they won’t ingest something like that.
Finally, airborne particles may set off an asthma attack or worsen existing allergies, or even cause them to form. Despite being separated from cars or plants, indoor air is often dirty, such as in office buildings or even inside people’s cars. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are often emitted from dirty carpets or most paints, and these particles may build up in the air for years. Studies have even shown that dirty air may reduce cognitive function of those who chronically breathe it in.
Medical Help Against Allergies
When is it time to see an allergist? A person may consult their personal physician and ask to see allergy doctors or asthma clinics in their area if they believe that they have developed an allergy, or if their current allergy or asthma condition has gotten worse. An allergist may gather family medical history for their patient and perform some tests, and they may determine whether their patient has indeed developed a new allergy or a new development of a current one. A person who moves to a new area, for example, might experience such changes in a new environment.
What can be done? Many Americans use inhalers, which are useful for relieving the symptoms of asthma or even preventing them (such as a characteristic tightening of the throat’s tissues). Other medications such as pills may reduce or even prevent the user’s allergy symptoms. And in any case, the allergist may advise their patient on how to spot and avoid their allergy’s causes, just to be safe. This may range from knowing which plants to avoid all the way to knowing which common foods typically contain something that the patient is allergic to. The allergist may also suggest carpet cleaning and HVAC cleaning to lower the density of airborne particles at work or the home.