Respiratory Allergies

Dust Allergy

Overview of a Dust Allergy

An allergy to dust is caused by tiny bugs that live in house dust. A reaction to dust mites can be as common as a runny nose and sneezing. Dust mites thrive in warm and humid environments and can be found in carpet and bedding. They eat skin cells that people shed.

  • About 20 million Americans have an allergy to dust mites. These people feel like they have a never-ending cold, or even asthma.
  • Symptoms include: itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
  • To feel better, you can be prescribed medication or change the environment of your house, as dust mites don’t like temperatures below 70 degrees and with low humidity.
  • A dust mite allergy can trigger asthma or even cause an eczema flare up. Typically, symptoms are worse after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting as they are easier to inhale.

Symptoms of a Dust Allergy

Symptoms of a dust allergy can range from mild to severe. When a dust mite allergy causes inflammation of the nasal passages, then symptoms can include itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, postnasal drip, itchy and watery eyes, and cough. If you also have asthma, you may experience more severe symptoms, such as chest pain, wheezing, trouble sleeping, and difficulty breathing.

Causes of a Dust Allergy

When you have an allergy to dust, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect from the substance that is causing the allergy. When you are exposed to the dust allergen for a long period of time, then chronic inflammation may occur.
Risk Factors of a Dust Allergy

Typically an allergy to dust is seen in childhood or even young adults. Adults typically do not have the allergy to dust. If you have a high exposure to dust mites then you will be at a higher risk for allergic reactions. You are also more likely to develop the allergen if there is a history of allergies in the family.

Complications of a Dust Allergy

People with an allergy to dust mites are at a high risk for sinus infections and asthma. Sinus infections occur when chronic inflammation of the nasal passages occurs. If you have asthma, and are exposed to dust mites, then it may be more difficult to control your asthma symptoms too.
Prevention

There are numerous ways to prevent a dust allergy. Keeping your home clean and with the right temperatures will make all of the difference. The humidity in your home needs to be below 50 percent at all times. In places where there is above 50 percent humidity, then dust mites are thriving. You also need to keep your air conditioner at a cooler temperature, around 72 degrees. Removing dust from the home is also essential. Start by wiping down the dust from everything. Wash sheets, blankets and stuff animals weekly. Remove carpet, if possible and if not, be sure to vacuum regularly too.

Diagnosis of a Dust Allergy

Your allergist may be able to diagnose you through a variety of questions about your symptoms and about your home. Sometimes there may a test recommended. A skin allergy test will place purified allergen extracts on the skin and price the skin’s surface. If the prick on your skin becomes raised or red, then the allergy is positive. If you are not able to complete the skin test, then a blood test may be recommended. Through this test, the allergist can see what is happening with the antibodies and how they react to allergens.

Treatment of a Dust Allergy

The best treatment is to limit your exposure to dust. This means a deep cleaning of your home is necessary. Until your home is free of dust, there are a few medications that can be given. An antihistamine can reduce the symptoms that you are experiencing. A corticosteroid can aid in reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Decongestants will aid in shrinking swollen tissues, which will make it easier to breathe.

Hay Fever Allergy

Overview of Hay Fever

Hay fever has cold-like symptoms, but the main different is that these symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction instead of a virus. This reaction can be caused by a variety of things, and can seriously affect your work, school or life.

  • Hay Fever is also known as Rhinitis and affects about 40 to 60 million Americans.
  • Symptoms include: runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, and fatigue.
  • There are two forms of Hay Fever, such as seasonal or perennial. Typically, seasonal Hay Fever occurs in spring, summer and early fall when pollen counts are high. Perennial Hay Fever occurs year-round and is caused by pet dander, mold, cockroaches, and dust mites.
  • Triggers may include: pollen, pet dander, perfume or cigarette smoke.

Symptoms of Hay Fever

As previously mentioned, symptoms are very similar to those of a cold, but is caused by the allergic reaction instead of the virus. Symptoms include runny nose, congestion, sneezing, coughing, watery and red eyes, post-nasal drip and fatigue. Various seasonal factors will play into the severity of symptoms and when they will occur.

Causes of Hay Fever

When you have hay fever, your body misidentifies the allergen as harmful and causes a reaction. The antibodies will signal a release of the chemicals and will produce the allergic reaction. Seasonal factors can cause a flare up of symptoms or make them worse. In the early spring, the tree pollen may be the cause. Ragweed pollen may be the culprit in the fall, etc.
Risk Factors of Hay Fever

If you have allergies or asthma, if your mother smoked during your first year of life, if you work in an environment where you are surrounded by allergens, if you have a family history of allergies or asthma, or have eczema, then you are at a higher risk of having hay fever.
Complications of Hay Fever

While hay fever is not necessarily life threatening, it can definitely wreak havoc on your health and life. In children that experience hay fever often, they may also have middle ear infections regularly. If you have asthma, your asthma symptoms may be worse when you are also experiencing hay fever symptoms. Prolonged sinus problems can lead to sinusitis. All of these symptoms will then lead to a lack of sleep, or poor sleep, which will in turn reduce your quality of life.

Prevention of Hay Fever

There is no way to prevent hay fever; the best thing to do is to decrease your exposure to allergens and to take medications as prescribed. If your symptoms are caused by pollen, then it is best to limit time outdoors, wash your hair and body when you come in from outside and avoid doing yard work during times when the pollen count is high.

Diagnosis of Hay Fever

Your allergist will begin by performing a physical examination, and then will follow with a skin prick test or a blood test. In the skin test, you come into direct contact with the allergen and then your skin is pricked. If the skin becomes red and raised, then there is a positive diagnosis. Some people are not able to have the skin test done, and will opt for the blood test. In the blood test, your allergist will be able to see how antibodies react to your body.

Treatment of Hay Fever

The best treatment for hay fever is to limit your exposure to allergens as best as possible. If there is still no relief, then there are a variety of medications that your allergist can prescribe. A nasal corticosteroid can help prevent nasal inflammation which is also the cause of a runny nose or nasal itching. An antihistamine can also help with itching, sneezing or a runny nose. A decongestant will help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages. Speak with your allergist about which treatment is best for you.

Mold Allergy

Overview of a Mold Allergy

A mold allergy happens when you breathe in bold spores and can cause coughing, itchy eyes or other allergy symptoms. The best way to treat these symptoms is by eliminating the mold source and limiting exposure.

  • There are two types of molds that affect people – indoor and outdoor. Outdoor molds cause symptoms in summer and fall (and sometimes year-round in warm climates). Indoor mold causes allergies year-round.
  • Symptoms include: sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion, and dry skin.
  • There are many types of molds, yet only a few dozen are the cause of allergic reactions.
  • The best treatment for a mold allergy is to avoid contact with mold by limiting time outdoors, investing in an air filter for your home, and taking medication for your allergy symptoms.

Symptoms of a Mold Allergy

Symptoms can be year-round or seasonal. They typically range from mild to severe. When weather conditions are damp, there is a higher risk for the presence of mold spores. Symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes. If you also have asthma, you may notice that your asthma is triggered by mold and may experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Causes of a Mold Allergy

A mold allergy occurs when the immune system produces antibodies to fight the allergen. Typically the allergic reaction will occur on the second encounter with the allergen. Molds are very common and come in a variety of types. If you are allergic to one type of mold, it does not necessarily mean that you will be allergic to all types of mold.

Risk Factors of a Mold Allergy

There are a variety of factors that can make you at a higher risk for a mold allergy. If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, then you are at a higher risk for a mold allergy. Work places that have a high exposure for mold can lead to an increased reaction. If your home has high humidity, excess moisture or poor ventilation, this can also lead to a mold allergy. When one or all of these conditions are present, then there is a high chance that there will be mold present.

Complications of a Mold Allergy

Mold- induced asthma can occur when people who are allergic to mold also have an allergic reaction to mold. These symptoms can be severe and a plan should be ready. Allergic fungal sinusitis happens when there is a prolonged period of fungus in the sinuses. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is the reaction to fungus in the lungs in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a rare condition that occurs when exposure to mold spores cause the lungs to become inflamed.

Prevention of a Mold Allergy

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction to mold is to eliminate the source of mold. Keep your air conditioner at a cool temperature and use a HEPA air filter. Use a dehumidifier. In places such as the bathroom, make sure there is proper ventilation. If there is carpet in the bathrooms or basements, then it is a good idea to pull those out and replace with a hard floor, such as tile. To prevent a mold allergy, you must prevent the mold from happening.

Diagnosis of a Mold Allergy

To begin the diagnosis, your allergist will begin with a physical examination and will ask about your symptoms. To ensure a proper diagnosis, a skin prick test may be administered. In this instance, a diluted amount of the allergen is placed on the skin and the skin is pricked. If the injected spot becomes raised, then you are allergic. If you are not able to complete a skin test, then a blood test will be completed. During a blood test, your allergist will take a sample of blood and see how the antibodies react to the allergen.

Treatment of a Mold Allergy

The best treatment for the allergen is to avoid the allergen. If mold is present at home, you must take the necessary steps to get rid of them. If molds are common and you just cannot avoid them, for example, if they are at work, then your allergist may recommend a nasal corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. Antihistamines may be given to aid in itching, sneezing, and runny nose. A variety of other medications are also available and your allergist will be able to help which will better suit your needs.

Pet Allergy

Overview of a Pet Allergy

A pet allergy is often triggered by the exposure to the dander of a pet, which is the dead skin. Any pet can be the cause of a pet allergy, but it is often seen most in cats and dogs.

  • Allergies to cats are about twice as common as allergies to dogs and are very common in people who already have allergies and asthma.
  • A truly “hypoallergenic” pet does not exist, as the hair is not what causes the allergy – but the collection of dander, urine and saliva in the hair.
  • Pet allergens are everywhere because they can be transported on clothing.
  • The best treatment for a pet allergy is to avoid the pet altogether by not having animals in your home and avoiding homes with pets in them.
  • If you choose to keep an animal in the home, it is best to take measures to reduce the allergen such as not allowing the animal in your bedroom, putting hard floors throughout the home, etc.

Symptoms of a Pet Allergy

A pet allergy can cause inflammation of the nasal passages, which can lead to sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, cough, postnasal drip, facial pain. Your symptoms will be worse if you also have asthma. If you have asthma and experience a pet allergy, you may also have difficulty breathing, chest pain, wheezing or trouble sleeping. In some people, skin symptoms will be present and appear as hives, eczema or itchy skin.

Causes of a Pet Allergy

The cause of the allergy to pets occurs when you inhale the pet dander and your body identifies it as a harmful substance. These antibodies that are produced cause the allergic reaction. If you are exposed to the allergen for too long, then you will have a chronic airway inflammation.

Risk Factors of a Pet Allergy

You are more susceptible to pet allergies if someone in your family also has an allergy or asthma. If you are exposed to pet dander at a young age, then you are less likely to develop a pet allergy. Some studies have shown that children who grow up with a dog in their home during their first year of life have a higher resistance to upper respiratory infections.

Complications of a Pet Allergy

When inflammation occurs over a long period of time, there is a higher risk of sinus infections. The obstructions make you more susceptible to develop bacteria in your sinuses. People with asthma often have a hard time managing their symptoms during a time of an allergy present. If you have asthma, it is so crucial that you avoid allergens as best as possible.

Prevention of a Pet Allergy

The best way to prevent a pet allergy is to ensure that you do not have pet allergies before you bring a new animal into the home. To make sure that your guests with allergies are as comfortable as possible, you can do simple tasks such as vacuuming regularly, washing sheets and items that the animals lay on. The goal is to get up as much dander as possible.

Diagnosis of a Pet Allergy

Your allergist will begin with a physical examination. The allergist may begin by looking at the lining of your nose to see if the passage appears to be swollen or pale/blue in color. To determine exactly what the allergy is to, he may suggest an allergy skin test. In this test, small amount of the purified allergens are placed on the skin’s surface and pricked. If you are allergic to the protein, then a small, red bump will appear to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, this test is not possible and a blood test is mandatory. In a blood test, your allergist will pull a sample of blood and see how the antibodies react.

Treatment of a Pet Allergy

The best treatment for a pet allergy is prevention. If you are allergic to pets, then it is best not to adopt a pet. If you are allergic and are going to someone’s house that has a pet, be sure to take something before you leave. Even if you are not planning on being around a pet, it can often travel in areas with no pets, such as on people’s clothing. Avoiding the allergen is sometimes nearly impossible. Your allergist will be able to recommend certain medications, such as an antihistamine to help relieve itching and sneezing.