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The Carletonian

SWArticle: Got Allergies?

<gies affect 1 in every 5 Americans, and usually are genetically inherited. Essentially, an allergy is an abnormal response of our immune system to either something in the environment or something that is digested. The substance that provokes the allergic response is called an allergen.

Many common allergens include pollen, hay, mold, dust, animal dander, certain medications and various foods – in particular nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Allergy symptoms as we best know them are usually mild – affecting only specified areas of the body, like a rash, itchy or watery eyes, and congestion. Reactions can also be moderate, wherein the symptoms spread to other parts of the body like itchy throat and difficulty breathing.

A severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the response to the allergen is intense and affects the whole body. This can happen to people with allergies to peanuts and bees.

If the allergen is in the air, the allergic reaction will likely occur in the eyes, nose and lungs. If the allergen is ingested, the allergic reaction often occurs in the mouth, stomach, and intestine.

Often allergy symptoms are confused with cold symptoms. However, one can tell from the seasonality and duration of the symptoms (colds generally only last a few weeks, while allergies can be indefinite if untreated). Skin and blood test can also be taken to determine specific allergies.

While there may not be so much you can to do prevent allergies (besides avoiding the allergic triggers), over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl or various antihistamines can be useful in treating your symptoms. If your allergies are really persistent and cumbersome, you may want to go see an allergist, who could treat you with a process called desensitization – in which you would be gradually vaccinated with progressively larger doses of the allergen in question.

For more information contact your SWAs.

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