What are Allergies?
An allergic reaction is an overreaction of the body in the presence of foreign material. This foreign body is called an allergen because it invokes an allergic reaction. To some people, the same foreign body does not cause an allergic reaction. In this case, it is not an allergen. For instance, dust mites blown around by an air conditioner may cause sneezing, wheezing, and other symptoms to someone, and yet not affect anyone else in the room. That’s because the immune system of that person made an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) against that particular dust mite at some point in their past when they first encountered it. Now, whenever that person is in the presence of that particular dust mite their body overreacts. Other allergens include certain drugs, foods, insect stings, latex, mold, pet dander, pollen and grass.
Most patients complain of sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, itchy watery eyes, or hives in the presence of allergens. Other more serious symptoms are swelling in the throat or tongue and respiratory distress. This advanced reaction is called anaphylaxis and sometimes requires epinephrine. Patients who are prone to anaphylaxis should carry an “epi-pen” at all times.
Knowing that an allergic reaction is an overreaction to an allergen means that the main objective of treatment is to calm the reaction. Over-the-counter antihistamines are designed to do that. But, sometimes they are not enough. In that case, systemic steroids may help. Other options include avoidance of the allergen and immunotherapy–which is used to train the immune system not to overreact.
How Can Dr. Sarge Help With Allergies?
If you are having an allergic reaction and think you need a doctor to help, let us know us everything during your meeting with your Dr. Sarge. Be prepared to tell us when, where, how long…everything. Don’t worry. Everything you tell us is completely confidential. If the doctor thinks that you should be treated with prescription medications he or she will send an order to the pharmacy of your choice instantly.