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May 2021 Issue - Paisley Prescriptions
The 411 on Allergies
Ahh-choo! It’s a common sound during this time of year when the flora and fauna are in full swing spreading their yellow pixie dust across the world. Allergies—seasonal or not—are a big buzzword these days, with more people than ever showing signs and symptoms. Obviously we all know the sneezing, itchy throat, watery eyes and runny nose symptoms of allergies, but read on to learn more about allergies, intolerances and what is behind the rise.
Can I develop allergies at any age?
Yes, you can develop allergies at any age.
What is the difference between
allergy and intolerance?
Allergies tend to be worse than any intolerance. Allergic symptoms are immune system and histamine related. Symptoms can be as mild as sneezing, watery eyes, or a localized red, itchy rash (hives). However, in some cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which is a histamine response that closes up the airways and can be life threatening.
Intolerance does not involve the immune system and is usually related to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Other intolerances could be something like a headache.
What is behind the steady increase in allergies
in children and adults?
Why are they becoming more severe?
Cleaner environments may cause an increase in allergies as immune systems are exposed to fewer irritants. This causes the immune system to have difficulty telling the difference between harmless and harmful irritants. Our skin is exposed to a lot of different allergens. If these allergens are ingested, we are less likely to develop an allergy to a specific food. Increased use of antibiotics may also increase allergies.
Can allergies be cured, or can I grow out of them?
It’s possible that allergies can get better as you get older because the immune response becomes less severe. Allergies can also disappear over time.
How soon should I start introducing potential allergen-containing foods to my child’s diet?
Start introducing allergen rich foods to your child’s diet as early as six months. A few of the most common allergic foods are eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Some children have an intolerance to cow’s milk, which would be expressed as gastrointestinal symptoms.
Kim T. Baird practices Family Medicine at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Primary Care in Woodbine. She is an American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. She completed her undergraduate studies at Valdosta State University and her graduate degree is from Georgia Southern University. She speaks English, Spanish and French.