Allergies are among the most common medical complaints, and there is a tendency for allergic reactions to become more frequent, especially in children living in urban environments. Also, due to global warming, seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are more frequent because the pollen season starts earlier and is more prolonged than before. How to know your allergies and make lifestyle adjustments to avoid the unpleasant episodes with bothersome allergy symptoms? Unfortunately, many individuals don’t know their allergies until they eat a certain type of food for the first time or use a particular drug that may cause an allergic reaction. It is important to know that your first contact with an allergen never causes an allergy episode because this is the time when you become sensitized and your immune system develops a “memory” for the allergen, and falsely treats the harmless protein as an intruder. Although this type of response is useful when encountering harmful bacteria, viruses or tumors, it is useless in allergies, where the provoking substance is not dangerous at all. Allergy symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, itching, hives or skin redness, occur with subsequent exposures to the allergen, and may intensity or diminish over time. How to diagnose your allergies and manage them effectively to maintain a decent quality of life?
Allergy Tests Are Used To Identify The Precise Trigger of Your Allergic Reactions
At the Front Range Primary Care medical facility in Denver, CO, highly trained allergy specialists can use a variety of allergy tests to detect the allergen that is causing you problems. Sometimes, a simple discussion with the patient and a clinical examination are enough to suggest a possible allergen and make the diagnosis easier. For example, a runny and stuffy nose experienced by an individual in a repetitive manner during the pollen season may suggest hay fever and the allergen is probably flower pollen. Allergy symptoms experienced by a pet owner may suggest cat or dog allergies, and facilitate the identification of the precise allergy-provoking substance, which is almost always a protein contained in food, pollen, plants, pets, fabrics or cosmetic products. There are several types of allergy tests used to diagnose allergies, such as a skin prick test, a patch test or an intradermal test. All of them involve a contact that occurs on the surface or beneath the surface of the skin with a potential allergen, and evaluating your reaction to it. If clinically significant redness and swelling occur, then the test is positive and the allergen is successfully identified. An allergic reaction can also be detected through blood tests that show high amounts of IgE antibodies, although blood tests do not identify the specific allergy-causing protein, so skin allergy tests should be performed subsequently.
Your Allergies Are Included in Your Medical Records
After your allergies are diagnosed precisely at the Front Range Primacy Care clinic in Denver, CO,, they are included in your medical records. It is especially important in cases when individuals are allergic to certain medications, such as antibiotics or anesthetics, which should be considered in cases of a medical emergency. It is highly recommended to know the names of the medications you are allergic to and inform the medical staff of any medical facility you go to before any procedure is implemented in emergency situations. Don’t hesitate to inform your family and friends about your allergies, which enables them to respond accordingly in emergency situations, such as an anaphylactic shock or severe physical trauma, when the patient is in a critical condition and is usually unable to talk.
Antihistamines are a class of drugs that block the effects of histamine released from mast cells during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines may be used for other medical purposes because there are two types of histamine receptors; however, the vast majority of antihistamine prescriptions are issued for allergy treatment. The “older” antihistamines, also known as the first-generation antihistamines, are causing significant sedation and sleepiness because of their ability to penetrate the brain and induce an inhibitory effect on the brain cells. These antihistamines are still used today because they are very effective in blocking the histamine response. Sometimes, they are used for their sedative effect for anxiety relief during minor surgical or dental procedures, or in cases where agitation and insomnia are bothersome and should be diminished. The superbly trained medical specialists at the Front Range Primary Care medical center in Denver and Thornton, CO use mainly the new-generation antihistamines, which do not penetrate the brain to a significant degree, and do not cause sedation or a diminished mental focus. Still, allergy treatment with new-generation antihistamines, such as Loratadine, should be administered under the supervision of a doctor because it may cause some degree of sedation in certain individuals, and may impair their ability to drive or operate industrial machinery.
Anti-Allergy Antihistamines Block H1 Receptors
There are two types of antihistamines, which are used for different medical purposes. The majority of antihistamines belong to the category that blocks the H1 histamine receptors. These receptors are responsible for the effects of histamine release during an allergic reaction. There is a cascade of events that leads to this massive histamine response and its consequences. Whenever an allergen is introduced in the body, the sensitive immune cells of an allergic individual start to produce a specific type of antibodies called IgE. The immune cells called lymphocytes possess “immune memory”, which means that they have encountered this allergen before and have become sensitized. The immune cells treat the allergen as a dangerous intruder, like a bacteria, a virus or a tumor cell, although the allergen is harmless. This abnormal immune response to a harmless protein is the essence of allergies. The produced and released IgE binds to other immune cells called mast cells, which contain large deposits or granules of histamine.
Blocking Histamine Receptors Causes Allergy Relief
This binding results in a massive release of histamine, which is a biologically active substance that activates the cascade of inflammation, consisting in the dilation of small blood vessels, the escape of water from blood vessels to the tissues, also known as swelling, itching, and increased mucus production. These physiologic events caused by histamine translate into allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion and discharge, itching, swelling, hives, obstruction of the airways and difficulty breathing, and even a dangerously low blood pressure in case of a rare anaphylactic shock. H1 antihistamines are currently the most effective type of medication for allergy relief due to the crucial importance of histamine in allergic episodes. Antihistamines that block H2 receptors are a totally different class of drugs because H2 histamine receptors cause the production of acid in the stomach, and are not implicated in allergy symptoms.
Nasal congestion is a medical phenomenon or symptom that involves swelling of the nasal, sinus or throat mucosa due to the dilation of local blood vessels, and an excessive production of mucus that may block the nasal passages or occupy the paranasal sinuses, which are caused by an allergy or an upper respiratory infection like the common cold. Nasal congestion is usually accompanied by nasal discharge and makes breathing through the nose difficult due to an increased resistance to airflow through the swollen passages. At the Front Range Primary Care medical clinic in Denver and Thornton, CO, qualified doctors and their assisting medical personnel prescribe nasal decongestants to individuals who have a stuffy nose, which is the popular term for nasal congestion, as a result of an allergic reaction or sinus infection. However, nasal decongestants have their limitations and side effects, which requires sufficient expertise and experience of the doctor to use this therapeutic tool only in acute cases rather than a long-term solution for nasal congestion.
Decongestants Increase the Adrenaline Mediated Blood Vessel Constriction
Nasal congestion and difficulty with nasal breathing are among the most common allergy symptoms, especially for individuals suffering from hay fever. It is also a typical sign of sinus infection or the common cold. Whatever the origin, nasal congestion is caused by an excessive dilation of the blood vessels in the nose and paranasal sinuses in response to inflammation caused by a virus, a bacteria or an allergen. The dilation of the local blood vessels in the nasal passages create obstacles for the normal airflow, and the afflicted individual may experience discomfort associated with breathing through the nose. These acute symptoms may disrupt one’s sleep and may dramatically lower their work productivity. Experienced medical professionals at the Front Range Primary Care in Thornton, CO, can recommend the usage of nasal decongestants to neutralize the excessive inflammation and vasodilation for a few days until normal defense mechanisms come into play. Nasal decongestants increase the release of adrenaline or noradrenaline in the nerve endings distributed to the local blood vessels, which results in their constriction and a reduction of swelling and mucus production. Decongestants are usually effective for up to seven days, and prolonged use is not recommended due to the developed tolerance to the stimulation caused by the medication.
Side Effects of Decongestants Mimic the Stimulation Caused by Adrenaline
Usually, topical nasal decongestants in the form of nasal sprays are a safe way to relieve nasal congestion without substantial side effects because they act locally and rarely produce obvious generalized symptoms. However, in certain individuals, some decongestants may produce side effects similar to a general stimulation caused by nerves that work through adrenaline transmission, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, or an elevated heart rate. These side effects are rarely dangerous and, in most cases, they are mild to moderate and temporary. The most substantial problem with decongestants is a phenomenon called tachyphylaxis, which involves a tolerance to the effects of the drug. Essentially, decongestants become increasingly less effective after repetitive use, and they may substantially diminish their effects after about a week of continuous use. Our qualified physicians recommend using decongestants only for short-term relief of allergy symptoms, and suggest relying on long-term treatments, such as nasal irrigation, avoidance of the allergen after accurate allergy tests or immunotherapy.
Allergic reactions are caused by abnormalities exhibited by one’s immune system, which falsely recognizes harmless proteins contained in food, in the air, originating from pets, insects or plants, as being dangerous for the body. This exaggerated response to inoffensive particles is accompanied by the production of specific antibodies, such as Immunoglobulin E or IgE, which in turn triggers a massive release of histamine and other inflammation-provoking chemicals into the bloodstream. A similar inflammatory response is caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or cancerous cells that are detected in the body, but this type of response is protective and useful in eliminating the intruder and restoring one’s health. If you or a loved one experience some of the symptoms described and explained below, then don’t hesitate to benefit from allergy tests and evaluation of your allergy symptoms at the Front Range Primary Care clinic in Denver, CO, where our talented and compassionate doctors and nurses work daily to provide relief for their patients.
An Allergic Reaction May Consist of Respiratory, Skin, Digestive or Generalized Symptoms
Not all allergic reactions are the same, and the specific symptoms and their intensity vary greatly depending on the involved allergen and the condition of one’s immune system. The intensity of the allergic reaction also depends on the concentration of the allergen, and on the previously implemented therapies, such as antihistamines or immunotherapy, which may diminish the severity of allergy symptoms. The intensity of allergy signs may also depend on the age of the individual. For example, many children outgrow their egg allergy and the symptoms become less severe over time until they disappear entirely. There is a great variety of allergy symptoms, but they all derive from the inflammation, blood vessel dilation and airways constriction caused by histamine and other chemicals released by immune cells. Allergy signs that are specific to the skin or mucosa may be swelling, itching, hives, eczema or redness, and localized pain. These skin symptoms are caused by the histamine-driven escape of fluids from the small capillaries to the peripheral tissues, which causes inflammation, swelling and pressure exerted on the nerve endings. Symptoms specific for the respiratory system may include airway constriction followed by wheezing and shortness of breath, but also nasal mucosa inflammation, resulting in nasal congestion, discharge and difficulty breathing through the nose. In rare cases, severe respiratory symptoms may include throat swelling and a substantial obstruction of airflow, accompanied by generalized anaphylactic shock signs, such as a dramatic collapse of blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
Food Allergies May Cause Digestive Symptoms
The ingestion of foods containing allergens may trigger symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting, which may vary in intensity depending on the specific type of allergy. Highly trained allergy experts working at the Front Range Primary Care medical center in Denver, CO have the required expertise to distinguish between symptoms of a food allergy and food intolerance or sensitivity, which may be accompanied by similar symptoms, but are different medical disorders that require a different type of treatment. Allergy treatment consists of short-term relief through the administration of antihistamines, or long-term treatment in the form of immunotherapy, which is preceded by detailed allergy tests required to identify the precise allergen.