Allergies

When a foreign substance invades your body and your immune system responds, it’s an allergy. These are called allergens, and they include certain foods, pollen, pet dander, insect stings or drugs. Your immune system adjusts to your surroundings to keep you healthy, but when it deems an allergen as a threat, even a non-harmful one, it can react severely. Allergies are common and several treatments can help these annoying symptoms calm down.

Causes

  • Animals—dust mite waste, pet dander, bed bugs
  • Foods—wheat, nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs
  • Drugs—sulfa drugs, penicillin
  • Mold—airborne spores from mold
  • Plants—pollens from weeds, grass, and trees; resin from poison ivy and poison oak
  • Water or shampoo trapped in the ear
  • Other—latex, metals

Symptoms

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, can have symptoms like a cold. Those include runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and red and swollen eyes. These symptoms can sometimes be treated with over-the-counter medications. If your allergic symptoms grow out of hand, seek medical attention.

Food allergies cause moderate to severe symptoms like hives, nausea, fatigue and gastrointestinal problems. People can sometimes go a long time before realizing that they’re allergic to a particular food or foods. Some food allergies can be serious, so if you have an extreme reaction, get medical help immediately.

Severe allergies can be life threatening, so if they happen, it’s important to get medical attention right away. Severe reactions include anaphylaxis, which can cause hives, swelling, lowered blood pressure and dilated blood vessels. If you believe you are having a severe allergic reaction, go to your nearest emergency department.

Treatment

A sure way to avoid allergic reactions to allergens is to avoid them whenever possible. But, since that’s never going to happen, there are some medicines available, both over-the-counter and prescription strength.

Should I go to Indigo?

MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care can help you control mild to moderate allergy symptoms, often by prescribing antihistamines. Other medicines that may also be prescribed are corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium, leukotriene modifiers and decongestants to combat the uncomfortable symptoms.

If you are having any of the following symptoms, it’s probably best if you visited your nearest emergency department:

  • Difficulty or irregular breathing
  • Coughing, wheezing, itchy throat or mouth
  • Severe hives, itchiness, red bumps on skin, skin redness
  • Lowered blood pressure, rapid pulse, heart palpitations, or dilated blood vessels
  • Nausea, vomiting, chest discomfort or tightness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, mental confusion, loss of consciousness, weakness, and fainting

Find an  Indigo Urgent Care location near you.