Help for Allergies
Do you have a love-hate relationship with spring? Are you constantly trying to boil the dust mites out of your bedding? If so, you are probably among the 50 million (and growing) allergy warriors.
They constantly battle itchy, stuffy noses, sneezing, nasal drainage, watery, and itchy eyes. Even the legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon wrote a song about allergies. If you have allergies, take heart. Texas Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, L.L.P. can help you find personalized treatment to help you live a great life with fewer allergy symptoms.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are a condition in which your immune system has become crazy sensitive, particularly to things that shouldn’t actually threaten your health. An out-of-control immune response can, itself, become a threat.
A non-allergic immune system knows the difference between a virus and the proteins in grass pollen; so it will attack the virus and ignore the pollen. An allergic immune system, however, treats the harmless grass pollen (or pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, ragweed pollen, or other allergen) as if it were a nefarious virus or bacteria. So in an attempt to rid your body of the invader, your immune system responds with a host of symptoms.
So who has allergies? Today, about 30% of adults and 40% of children have been diagnosed with allergies—which means that there are more allergies in store for future generations. Your chances are worse if one or both of your parents are allergic. Currently, there are no cures for allergies, but there are many allergy treatments that provide relief from the symptoms, and that can stop and prevent very serious allergic reactions.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergies?
- Sneezing—This is one of your immune system’s first responses when it comes to evicting invaders from your mucus membranes. You may think that your nose is the only thing involved in a sneeze, but actually, your entire upper respiratory system is activated. Nerves in your nose sense the foreigner and your brain triggers rapid signals that instantly shut your eyes, throat, and mouth while contracting your chest muscles. Then suddenly, everything lets go in a burst of air, mucus, and saliva (expelling the offending germs and allergens) that comes flying out of your nose and mouth at about 100 mph. Gesundheit!
- Congestion—A stuffy nose and clogged sinuses are also parts of the immune response. When an allergen lands on the mucous membranes in your nose, your immune system pumps out antibodies. They call on mast cells to help combat the intruders. The mast cells release inflammatory histamine, a natural chemical that swells up your nasal passages. When your nasal passages are swollen, it’s harder to breathe and excess mucus can get backed up in the sinuses.
- Nasal Drainage—So you’re sneezing, you have congestion going on and your nose somehow manages to be runny. That’s because your mucous membranes are producing excess mucus to flush away the allergens. But if you have a really stuffy nose, that mucus can clog your sinuses, and it can also cause post-nasal drip that slides down the back of your throat. This can give you a sore throat and a cough. That’s right…allergies are just a barrel of laughs.
- Itchy Nose and Eyes—Contact with specific allergens that you are sensitive to can also cause an itchy, tickling, irritating sensation in the nose and eyes (and even in the throat and on the skin too). This makes you want to rub and scratch, but don’t. It won’t stop the trouble, and can actually worsen the irritation, particularly when it comes to itchy eyes.
Taken together, this collection of symptoms is technically called “allergic rhinitis.”
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