The purpose of your immune system is to keep the body safe by recognizing and attacking foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria. When you have allergies, that means there's a malfunction in this process.
An allergy develops when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance for a harmful one. When the immune system attacks the allergen, you experience allergy symptoms that may affect your skin, digestive system, airways, or sinuses.
When your body categorizes an allergen as harmful, it produces antibodies to that allergen. Each time you encounter that allergen in the future, the antibodies attack the allergen and produce chemicals like histamine that cause allergy symptoms.
Some of the most common allergens include:
The symptoms you’ll experience when you have an allergy usually depend on the type of allergen. For example, inhaled allergens, such as pollen, may cause watery eyes, runny nose, stuffy nose, itching in your nose or roof of the mouth, and sneezing.
For allergens that you eat or swallow, you may experience more severe symptoms, such as:
For allergens that come into contact with the skin, symptoms usually include a rash, itching, or flaking.
For most types of allergies, our practitioners will recommend a skin test. During this test, we will make several small scratches on your skin. We will then place a drop of different possible allergens in each scratch to see how your immune system reacts. This test can determine which particular substances are causing your symptoms so you can get the best possible treatment.
With some allergens, you may be able to deal with the problem simply by avoiding the substance. However, other allergens are unavoidable.
Some allergies respond well to medication, such as antihistamines. However, if you continue to have symptoms with medication, immunotherapy may recommend. In that case, she'll treat you with a purified form of specific allergens over a period of several months. That will help you build an immunity and experience fewer symptoms down the road.