in the United States suffer from allergy symptoms. But not everyone is allergic to the same thing. There are many different kinds of allergies. But what’s the difference between these allergens and the type of reactions they cause? Allergens can generally be broken down into three categories
- allergens you inhale, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander; allergens you eat or ingest; and allergens that cause a reaction when they come in contact with skin.
Inhaled or Environmental Allergens
Inhaled allergies are the most common type of allergy. Reactions occur when an allergy sufferer
breathes in an allergen such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander or mold. The body reacts to the allergen by sending the immune system into hyper-drive, causing symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. Some of these allergens, such as pollen, are worse during different seasons, causing sufferers to be most uncomfortable at certain times of the year. However, many inhaled allergens can be found indoors. These allergens include dust mites, mold and pet dander.
The symptoms caused by inhaled allergens are often annoying and uncomfortable but are rarely ever life-threatening. Symptoms can be eased and treated a number of different ways:
Food and Ingested Allergens
- Allergy medication, both prescribed and over-the-counter can be taken to relieve many symptoms.
- Using allergy bedding and mattress covers for dust mites and other allergens will help keep reaction inducing particles off of your bed and help ease allergy symptoms while you sleep.
- Avoiding the outdoors during allergy season.
- Using air conditioning or HEPA air filters to clean the air in your home and get rid of allergens.
Ingested allergies are an immune reaction that occur shortly after a certain type of food or beverage is consumed. Symptoms of food allergies
can range in severity from digestive issues and hives to a life threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Food allergies are much less common than inhaled allergies. They only affect about 6-8% of children and 3% of adults. Children actually oftentimes outgrow food allergies.
Unfortunately there is no cure for food allergies but it can be managed by avoiding the food item you are allergic to.
A contact allergy, also known as contact dermatitis
, occurs when a certain product or substance irritates the skin of the allergy sufferer. Common reactions to contact allergies include hives, redness of the skin and itching. These symptoms can often be very uncomfortable, however, much like inhaled allergic reactions, they are usually never life threatening. Items that may cause a contact allergic reaction are often things you would regularly use on your skin, such as soaps, lotions, makeup and detergents. Jewelry can also sometimes cause allergic irritation. In fact, the reaction many people have to poison ivy is actually a contact allergic reaction.