Frequently Asked Questions About Allergies

What is an Allergy?
An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance. The immune system of an allergic person reacts when an allergen is absorbed into their body, treating the substance as a harmful invader, causing the white blood cells to begin producing antibodies which attach themselves to mast cells. When this occurs it causes the body to release histamine, which can cause allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, itching, sneezing or a runny nose.

What is Seasonal Rhinitis, or "Hay Fever"?
Usually called "hay fever", seasonal rhinitis is caused by an allergy to the pollen of trees, grasses, weeds or mold spores. Seasonal allergic rhinitis may occur in the spring, summer or fall and may last until the first frost. The "season" depends on which allergen causes the reaction, the region of the country and pollination periods. Symptoms include sneezing, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, and burning palate and throat. These seasonal allergies have been known to trigger asthma.

What happens when you have Allergic Rhinitis (Allergy Symptoms)?
Allergic rhinitis is a general term which applies to anyone who has symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, or sneezing due to an allergic reaction. Allergic rhinitis is frequently accompanied by sinusitis.

How are allergies and Eczema related?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis in its extreme form, is an itchy rash that occurs on the hands, arms, legs, and neck, but can cover the entire body in extreme cases. It is non-contagious. Atopic dermatitis is frequently caused by allergens. Prolonged exposure to the allergens may aggravate the itchy rash and cause additional discomfort.

What can happen in an extreme allergic reaction?
An anaphylactic reaction is an extreme, life threatening allergic reaction usually involving food, medications or insect bites. An anaphylactic reaction can result in breathing problems, dizziness, hives, a sudden drop in blood pressure, an asthma attack, or unconsciousness. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly. An emergency kit containing epinephrine is usually used by patients prone to these attacks.

What should I do if I suffer from allergies?
Consult with your U.S. HealthWorks medical provider for the best solutions.
You may be able to reduce your risk by:

  • Identifying your allergens
  • Understanding the timing of pollen levels in your area
  • Maintaining your yard in ways that minimize growth of more allergenic plants
  • Maintain your house in ways that reduce growth of molds or dust mites