Among the most common chronic conditions, allergies impact up to 50 million Americans. They can strike at any time or age, sometimes disappearing and returning years later. All forms of allergic reaction begin in the immune system. While it normally protects us from invading organisms, in the case of allergies the immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader and overacts to this allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some, allergies also trigger symptoms of asthma. In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.
Types of Allergies
While many different allergens can trigger allergic reactions, the most common include:
- Insect stings
- Animal dander
When allergies are suspected, patients should be referred to an allergist for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. Their specialized training allows allergists to:
- Perform allergy testing
- Identify the allergy’s source with an accurate diagnosis
- Develop a plan to treat both the cause and the symptoms
Key steps in the process will be a thorough medical history and allergy test selection.
- AllergyEats — Includes app with a guide to allergy friendly restaurants (free for Android and Apple)
- Allergy forms and checklists for your child’s school
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
- Arizona Allergy Society
- Food allergy action plan
- How to read a food label
- ScanAvert — Scan product barcodes (free for Android and Apple)
- My Food Facts — Scan food barcodes (Apple only; possible cost)
- My EpiPen — App for Apple or Android
- Nasal Allergy Journal
- Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire
- Skin Allergies
- Search Your Symptoms