We are deep into the pollen season, and allergy sufferers are experiencing sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, worsening of asthma, and many other unpleasant symptoms.
What is allergy? Allergy involves the immune system, our body’s natural defense that produces “antibodies” to fight off infections. In allergic people, the immune system treats otherwise harmless particles—such as pollen, dust or animal dander—as if they are a threat. Antibodies against these particles interact with cells in the nose, eyes, skin and lungs to produce sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, worsening of asthma—the familiar allergic symptoms.
What triggers allergies? Pollen, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and mold are common allergens.
What is pollen? Pollen is a microscopic, powdery substance that is part of the way plants reproduce. During certain seasons, plants send millions of these granules into the air. Trees and grasses pollinate in the spring; weeds in the late summer or early fall.
Why do I have allergies all year round? You are probably allergic to year-round (“perennial”) allergens, such as dust mites, animals, mold or cockroaches. Some people have seasonal and perennial allergies.
Don’t some dogs have hair instead of fur, and so are hypo-allergenic? No. Hair and fur are chemically identical. There is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic dog. However, you may be allergic to only some breeds of dogs. To the cat-allergic person, all cats are equally problematic.
Why do only some people have allergies? The allergic condition has a genetic element, so it tends to run in families. There are other less well understood factors, and allergy can develop at any age even in people with no allergic family members.
Is it my allergies, or is it COVID-19? COVID-19 can cause a variety of symptoms, usually including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of allergies usually include itching, sneezing, and runny nose, but allergies do not cause fever. If you suspect you may have COVID-19, don’t wait—consult your doctor immediately.
What can I do about my allergies? Sometimes, an over-the-counter allergy medication may be all you need. It’s always a good idea to consult an allergist for testing to find out what you are allergic to. Once you know what causes your allergies, the allergist can make recommendations that are best for your personal concerns.
Call the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Heath Center 718-945-7150 to make your Allergy/Asthma appointment. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, we are offering consultations by telephone and video.