Allergies

Causes | Type of Allergies | Allergy Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment

Allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases, affecting over 50 million Americans each year, according to the NIH. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to a foreign substance (allergen) that doesn’t cause a reaction in most people. When an allergic reaction occurs, the body produces substances called antibodies that can protect a person from getting sick. People have various reactions to allergens, including inflammation of the skin, sinuses, airways or the digestive system. The severity of allergic reactions also varies from person to person, and can range from minor symptoms to potentially life-threatening emergencies, such as anaphylaxis.

Types of Allergies

  • Food – occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful, and reacts by causing allergic symptoms.
  • Insect – occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to a sting or bite that cause an allergic reaction. Insect bites are rarely lethal, however the venom from an insect sting may cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. Insects that don’t bite or sting may cause an allergic reaction as well (e.g. dust mites or cockroach waste).
  • Mold – occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts when mold spores are inhaled. Mold can spread in both dry, windy weather as well as high humidity weather.
  • Pet – occurs when the body’s immune system reacts adversely to pet dander. Some people may also be allergic to the saliva or urine of an animal.
  • Pollen – occurs when the body’s immune system reacts adversely to various types of plant pollen. Grass is the most common plant allergen.
  • Latex – occurs when the body overreacts to coming into contact with items made of latex. Many common latex items include: balloons, rubber bands, rubber balls, bandages, gloves, etc.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms of allergies vary from person to person, as do the severity of the symptoms. Because allergens can enter or interact with the body in many ways, the symptoms can occur both internally and externally.

Various ways allergens enter or interact with the body:

  • Absorbed through the skin – contact with plants, latex, skin care products, household products, etc.
  • Inhaled through the nose – pollen, dust, mold spores, pet dander, etc.
  • Injected into the body – stings, bites, medicines, etc.
  • Ingested by mouth – food allergies, medicines, etc.
  • Contact with the eyes – pollen, skin care/beauty products, etc.

Diagnosis

Because there are so many different types of allergies, there are a variety of tests that a doctor may perform to determine what a person’s body reacts to. A full medical history and family history are necessary to rule out underlying conditions. The doctor may also order a variety of examinations, such as blood tests, skin prick tests, patch tests, etc. because a combination of test results is more accurate than one single test.

Treatment

There is a wide variety of treatments for allergy sufferers, mainly involving nasal sprays, creams, pharmaceutical drugs and injections, however many people don’t like the thought of having to take medications for the rest of their lives. The experts at SCU Health System provide an alternative for these people.
Acupuncture: the expert team of acupuncturists at SCU Health System has been treating people suffering from allergies for years with optimal results and without medication. It is common to see improvements after the first acupuncture treatment, whereas it may take weeks to see an improvement with Western medical treatments.
Ayurveda: the SCU Ayurvedic Medicine Team provides a revitalizing Eastern Medicine approach that treats the body as a whole in order to strengthen a person’s immune system by strengthening the individual’s digestive fire (or inner resilience).
Herbal: SCU Health System has an onsite herbal pharmacy that provides various herbal remedies known to show improvement in various allergy conditions. Our pharmacy provides herbs in both their raw form and tablet form, depending on the properties of the herb and the patient’s preference.

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