Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. For some, allergies can worsen during certain seasons while others are affected by different allergens year-round. The effects of allergies can range from mild to severe and can also be debilitating or even fatal. Allergies are actually ranked 6th for chronic illnesses in the United States.
Dr. Khetarpal breaks down the causes, symptoms, and how to manage some of the most pervasive allergens that affect his patients.
What Causes Allergies?
An allergy is an unusual response of the body to an environmental agent. While most individuals may not be allergic to a particular item, some individuals are genetically predisposed to allergies to certain agents or become allergic as time goes by. The development of allergies depends on genetics, environmental interactions, degree of exposure to the particular allergen and duration of exposure, and yet unknown factors.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which an individual manifests nasal or sinus symptoms of being allergic to any agent to which they are exposed. These foreign agents could be inhalants or aerosolized particles such as pollens, dust mites, animal or pet dander, foods, certain chemicals, aspirin or non-steroidal medicines such as ibuprofen, or certain medicines. Typically a type I hypersensitivity reaction results in an early reaction to these allergens and a type III reaction to a delayed response that may take hours to develop.
Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis vary and can be seasonal - and for some of us unlucky ones - year-round. Typically sneezing, clear nasal discharge, postnasal drip, itchy eyes, itchy nose, nasal congestion, headaches, eye tearing, itchy palate, and even itchy ears may manifest with allergic rhinitis. Allergic eye symptoms may coexist with allergic rhinitis. For some patients, allergic rhinitis may also predispose them to persistent or chronic sinusitis and asthma.
Types of Allergens
Allergens are substances that can cause allergic reactions. While some of the most common allergens are pollen, dust mites, and dander, people can also be affected by things such as cologne and chlorine.
Most Common Airborne Allergens
Our data has shown that dust mites, pollens, molds, and cockroaches besides cat and dog dander are the most common allergens. Pollens may come from weeds such as ragweed or from trees such as mesquite, pine, cedar, or from local grasses such as Johnson or Bermuda grass. It is important to note that most individuals are allergic to more than one antigen. Some patients are aware of more severe allergic reactions and the antigens that