Allergy Main: What Are Allergies: Allergies A-Z (Glossary of All Allergies)
Allergic Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
When your eyes are exposed to substances like pollen or mold spores, they may become red, itchy, and watery. These symptoms mean you have allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis refers to eye inflammation resulting from an allergic reaction to substances like pollen or mold spores. The inside of your eyelids and the covering of your eyeball have a membrane called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is susceptible to irritation from allergens, especially during hay fever season. Allergic conjunctivitus is quite common and affects about one-fifth of the population. It is your body’s reaction to substances it considers potentially harmful.
Allergies to Insect Stings (Bee Stings)
Bee, wasp, yellow jacket, hornet, or fire ant stings most often trigger allergic reactions. However, most people are not allergic to insect stings and may mistake a normal sting reaction for an allergic reaction. By knowing the difference, you can prevent unnecessary worry and visits to the doctor.
Allergies to Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that contain an irritating, oily sap called urushiol. Urushiol triggers an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with skin, resulting in an itchy rash, which can appear within hours of exposure or up to several days later. A person can be exposed to urushiol directly or by touching objects — such as gardening tools, camping equipment, and even a pet’s fur — that have come into contact with the sap of one of the poison plants.
Allergy to other animals and related causes
Pet allergy is an allergic reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva or urine. Signs of pet allergy include those common to hay fever, such as sneezing and runny nose. Some people may also experience signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing. Most often, pet allergy is triggered by exposure to the dead flakes of skin (dander) a pet sheds. Any animal with fur can be a source of pet allergy. If you have a pet allergy, the best strategy is to avoid or reduce exposure to the animal as much as possible. Medications or other treatments may be necessary to relieve symptoms and manage asthma.
Aspirin Allergy (Salicylate Allergy)
Reactions to aspirin are common. If you have an aspirin allergy or sensitivity, you may also have a reaction to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others).
A casein allergy occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly thinks the protein is harmful and inappropriately produces allergic (IgE) antibodies for protection. The interaction between these antibodies and the specific protein triggers the release of body chemicals such as histamine that cause symptoms which may include: Swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face, or throat; Skin reactions such as hives, a rash, or red, itchy skin; Nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, orwheezing.
Cat allergy in humans is an allergic reaction to one or more allergens produced by cats. The most common of these allergens are the glycoprotein Fel d 1, secreted by the cat’s sebaceous glands and Fel d 4, which is expressed in saliva. An allergic reaction is a histamine reaction that is usually characterized by coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, itching, nasal congestion, rash, watering eyes, sneezing, chapped lips, and similar symptoms.
That moisturizer your friends swear by? Left your face red and scaly. The cleaner you’ve been using for years to make your bathroom sparkle? Made your hands itch and burn. For some people, the chemicals in shampoos and detergents can trigger allergic skin reactions.
Since cosmetics are most commonly applied to the female face, this is site most commonly involved in cosmetic skin reactions and inflammatory dermatitis. The rash produced by such a reaction often appears as a scaling, itchy red area, an eczematous dermatitis, usually confined to the area where the cosmetic was applied. It is often very difficult to distinguish on the basis of appearance whether the reaction is allergic or irritant. Sometimes there may be a stinging sensation soon after the offending cosmetic is applied, or the reaction can be delayed for a day or two. Less commonly, reactions may appear as blackheads, folliculitis, hives, and darkened skin.
For a person with dog allergies, life in a dog-loving country isn’t easy. In 2012, 36.5% of U.S. households had a dog. Dog dander gets everywhere, including places where dogs have never set a paw. According to the National Institutes of Health, detectable levels of pet dander are in every home in the U.S.
A drug allergy is an allergy to a drug, most commonly a medication. Medical attention should be sought immediately if an allergic reaction is suspected.
An allergic reaction will not occur on the first exposure to a substance. The first exposure allows the body to create antibodies and memory lymphocyte cells for the antigen. However, drugs often contain many different substances, including dyes, which could cause allergic reactions. This can cause an allergic reaction on the first administration of a drug. For example, a person who developed an allergy to a red dye will be allergic to any new drug which contains that red dye.
Dust allergies also make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust also just makes some people itchy. People with dust allergies often suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes. Oddly enough, their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale.
Eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods for children. Egg allergy symptoms usually occur a few minutes to a few hours after eating eggs or foods containing eggs. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe and can include skin rashes, hives, nasal congestion, and vomiting or other digestive problems. Rarely, egg allergy can cause anaphylaxis — a life-threatening reaction.
It’s fall, and the blooms of summer have faded. So how come you’re still sneezing? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they can cause just as many symptoms as you have in spring and summer.
Unlike other food allergies, which are typically first observed in babies and young children, an allergy to fish may not become apparent until adulthood; in one study, as many as 40 percent of people reporting a fish allergy had no problems with fish until they were adults.
Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
More than 50 million Americans have an allergy of some kind. Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems. Learn more about the types of food allergies.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common condition that shows signs and symptoms similar to a cold with sneezing, congestion, runny nose and sinus pressures.
Hives, also known as urticaria, are an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps, patches, or welts on the skin that appear suddenly — either as a result of allergies, or for other reasons.
Milk allergy, one of the most common food allergies in children, is an abnormal response by the body’s immune system to milk and products containing milk. Cow’s milk is the usual cause, but milk from sheep, goats, buffalo and other mammals also can cause a reaction.
If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. This triggers a cascade of reactions that lead to allergic symptoms. Like other allergies, a mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.
Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis — an itchy rash that appears when your skin touches a usually harmless substance.
Nut (Peanut) Allergy
Peanut allergy is a type of food allergy due to peanuts. It is different from nut allergies. Physical symptoms of allergic reaction can include itchiness, urticaria, swelling, eczema, sneezing, asthma, abdominal pain, drop in blood pressure, and cardiac arrest. Anaphylaxis may occur. It is a type one hypersensitivity reaction to dietary substances from peanuts that causes an overreaction of the immune system. It is recognized “as one of the most severe food allergies due to its prevalence, persistency and potential severity of allergic reaction.”
Penicillin allergy is an abnormal reaction of your immune system to the antibiotic drug penicillin. Penicillin is prescribed for treating various bacterial infections. Common signs and symptoms of penicillin allergy include hives, rash and itching. Severe reactions include anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that affects multiple body systems.
Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These particles, known as pollen, hitch rides on currents of air. Although their mission is to fertilize parts of other plants, many never reach their targets. Instead, they enter human noses and throats, triggering a type of seasonal allergic rhinitis called pollen allergy, which many people know as hay fever or rose fever (depending on the season in which the symptoms occur). Of all the things that can cause an allergy, pollen is one of the most widespread. Many of the foods, drugs, or animals that cause allergies can be avoided to a great extent; even insects and household dust are escapable. Short of staying indoors when the pollen count is high–and even that may not help–there is no easy way to evade windborne pollen.
Shellfish allergy is an abnormal response by the body’s immune system to proteins in certain marine animals. Shellfish include marine animals with shells, such as shrimp, crab, oysters and lobster, as well as octopus, squid and scallops. Some people with shellfish allergy react to all shellfish; others react to only certain kinds. Reactions range from mild symptoms — such as hives or a stuffy nose — to severe and even life-threatening. If you think you have a shellfish allergy, talk to your doctor. Tests can help confirm a shellfish allergy, so you can take steps to avoid future reactions.
Allergy to soy, a product of soybeans, is a common food allergy. Often, soy allergy starts in infancy with reaction to soy-based infant formula. Although most children outgrow soy allergy, some carry the allergy into adulthood. Mild signs and symptoms of soy allergy include hives or itching in and around the mouth. In rare cases, soy allergy can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you or your child has a reaction to soy, let your doctor know. Tests can help confirm a soy allergy. Having a soy allergy means avoiding products that contain soy, which can be difficult. Many foods, such as meat products, bakery goods, chocolate and breakfast cereals, may contain soy.
Spring is the time of year for seasonal allergies. As the trees start to bloom and the pollen is released into the atmosphere, allergy sufferers begin their annual ritual of sniffling and sneezing. Each year, 58 million Americans fall prey to seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever. Although there is no magical cure for spring allergies, there are a number of ways to combat them, from medication to household habits.
Sulfites are a group of sulfur-based compounds that may occur naturally or may be added to food as an enhancer and preservative. The FDA estimates that one out of 100 people is sensitive to the compounds. A person can develop sensitivity to sulfites at any time in life, and the trigger for the sensitivity is unknown. For a person who is sensitive to sulfites, a reaction can be mild or life threatening. In 1986, the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw, such as lettuce or apples. Regulations also require manufacturers who use sulfites in their processed products to list the compounds on their product labels. Although sulfites are no longer used on most fresh foods, they still can be found in a variety of cooked and processed foods. They also occur naturally in the process of making wine and beer.
Although spring most readily comes to mind when we think of allergies, many of the same allergic triggers that can make us miserable in the spring persist into summer. Add heat, humidity, and air pollution into the mix, and you have the recipe for summer allergy misery.
Sun Reactions of the Skin
Sun allergy is a term often used to describe a number of conditions in which an itchy red rash occurs on skin that’s been exposed to sunlight. The most common form of sun allergy is polymorphic light eruption, also known as sun poisoning. Some people have a hereditary type of sun allergy, while others develop signs and symptoms only when triggered by another factor — such as certain types of medications or skin exposure to plants such as limes or wild parsnip. Mild cases of sun allergy may resolve without treatment. More severe cases may require steroid creams or pills. People who have a severe sun allergy may need to take preventative measures and wear sun-protective clothing.
Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat, one of the top eight food allergens in the United States. Allergic reactions can result from eating wheat, but also, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour. Wheat can be found in many foods, including some you might not suspect, such as beer, soy sauce and ketchup. Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for wheat allergy. Medications may be necessary to manage allergic reactions if you accidentally eat wheat. Wheat allergy sometimes is confused with celiac disease, but these conditions differ. A wheat allergy generates an allergy-causing antibody to proteins found in wheat. In people with celiac disease, a particular protein in wheat — gluten — causes an abnormal immune system reaction.
Most people don’t associate winter with allergies, but allergies persist into and through the cold months, when they pose slightly different problems than they do during other seasons. “You don’t have any pollens in winter,” says Douglas H. Jones, MD, of the Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Group in Layton, Utah. “But you still have the indoor [allergens] — cats, dogs, cockroach droppings, dust mites, and mold.” Matthew A. Rank, MD, an allergy expert with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says that although specific data are hard to pin down, roughly 5 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of winter allergy.