Tips & Advice
What does hypoallergenic mean?
Hypoallergenic is a term used by make-up and skin care product manufacturers, that claims the product's ingredients are less likely to cause allergic reactions to the user. It does not mean the product is allergy proof. The term hypoallergenic literally means less allergenic. If you are sensitive, read the ingredients before using these products, as terms like hypoallergenic can be misleading.
Current medicine cannot cure allergies, although science is working on the problem. Until they are able to figure it out, you can only temporarily treat your symptoms and conditions through the usual methods of medications, treatments, and self-care.
How to treat pet allergies?
The most effective way to treat pet allergies is to avoid cats and dogs and not have them as pets. What if you already have pets and are attached to them? Well, if you insist on keeping your pets, or cannot avoid being around them, you will have to treat those allergies through medications like antihistamines, treatments and self-care. While the allergies will never go away completely, immunotherapy treatments might desensitize your body enough to make it more tolerable.
Allergy shots are an immunotherapy process where a small amount of specific allergens are injected into your body, in an effort to get it used to the allergen. It is intended to desensitize your body to the allergens, and reduce the discomfort. It’s similar to getting a flu shot.
How can you control seasonal allergies?
There are several ways to combat and control seasonal allergies, starting with medications like antihistamines and decongestants. Self-care, a more homeopathic method, would include using nasal washes or rinses and air purifiers. You can also have desensitization medical procedures done, though that may be a bit extreme for some. Consulting specialists and/or getting tested for specific allergies is a great way to manage allergies, but can be daunting. Keeping your home or work area clean and using air purifiers can also help.
Types of allergy medicine
There are several primary allergy medications, including immunotherapy (allergy shots); nasal allergy treatments (antihistamines, decongestants, steroid sprays); eye drops, leukotriene modifiers (for allergies and asthma); and mast cell inhibitors (similar function to nasal spray inhibitors). All are designed to treat the symptoms of allergies, like sneezing, runny nose, itching, and post-nasal drip. There are also non-drug and homeopathy alternatives available.
Antihistamine is a chemical used to combat the bodies’ histamines, usually during an allergy attack. Antihistamines provide relief for symptoms including itching and watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose. Antihistamines are usually delivered to the body via a nasal spray or ingested in pill form and are considered an over-the-counter medication. Stronger versions might require a prescription or injection.
What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?
A true food allergy happens when a body's immune system perceives a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms in multiple organs. The most severe food allergies can result in anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening. In contrast, symptoms of food intolerance (such celiac disease, or intolerance to lactose or gluten) are less serious and often limited to the digestive tract.
What is allergy skin testing?
Allergy skin testing uses tiny pricks in the skin to check for allergic reactions, typically to pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites, and foods. Also called a skin prick, puncture, or scratch test, the procedure can test up to 40 different substances at one time. In adults, the test is usually done on the forearm; in children it is typically done on the back. The severity of the allergy is determined by the size of the raised, red, itchy bump (wheal) around the prick site. Skin testing is not painful, as the prick is extremely tiny, but it can be very itchy if your skin responds to the allergen. After the test, a nurse wipes the area with alcohol, which eases itching.
Does an allergist need to be board certified?
Board certification is a voluntary process. To become board certified, an internist or pediatrician must first complete at least two years of additional study an allergy/immunology training program. Then he or she must pass a certifying exam administered by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). Board certified specialists participate in continuing education to keep up with the latest medical science and technology and with best practices in patient safety and quality healthcare. There are approximately 4,500 board certified allergists/immunologists in the United States.