How Do Doctors Diagnose Pollen Allergy
Doctors use two tests to diagnose a pollen allergy.
Skin Prick Test In prick/scratch testing, a nurse or doctor places a small drop of the possible allergen on your skin. Then the nurse will lightly prick or scratch the spot with a needle through the drop. If you are allergic to the substance, you will develop redness, swelling and itching at the test site within 20 minutes. You may also see a wheal. A wheal is a raised, round area that looks like a hive. Usually, the larger the wheal, the more likely you are to be allergic to the allergen.
A positive SPT to a particular pollen allergen does not necessarily mean that a person has an allergy. Health care providers must compare the skin test results with the time and place of a persons symptoms to see if they match.
Specific IgE Blood Test Blood tests are helpful when people have a skin condition or are taking medicines that interfere with skin testing. They may also be used in children who may not tolerate skin testing. Your doctor will take a blood sample and send it to a laboratory. The lab adds the allergen to your blood sample. Then they measure the amount of antibodies your blood produces to attack the allergens. This test is called Specific IgE Blood Testing. As with skin testing, a positive blood test to an allergen does not necessarily mean that an allergen caused your symptoms.
Why Do People Get Allergies
Anyone with an allergy has their origin story, a tale of how they discovered that their immune system goes haywire when some arbitrarily particular molecule gets into their body. There are hundreds of millions of these stories. In the US alone, an estimated 18 million people suffer from hay fever, and food allergies affect millions of American children. The prevalence of allergies in many other countries is rising. The list of allergens includes but is not limited to latex, gold, pollen , penicillin, insect venom, peanuts, papayas, jellyfish stings, perfume, eggs, the feces of house mites, pecans, salmon, beef and nickel.
Once these substances trigger an allergy, the symptoms can run the gamut from annoying to deadly. Hives appear, lips swell. Hay fever brings sniffles and stinging eyes allergies to food can cause vomiting and diarrhea. For an unlucky minority, allergies can trigger a potentially fatal whole-body reaction known as anaphylactic shock.
For allergy sufferers, the current treatment options are limited: antihistamines can stop the inflammation response, steroids can help dial down the immune system, and EpiPens can save lives. A more permanent option is immunotherapy. Deliberate, controlled exposure to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen can teach the immune system that it isnt dangerous after all.
Allergen Immunotherapy Is A Long
Medications only reduce the severity of symptoms and do not cure allergic rhinitis. Another treatment option is allergen immunotherapy which is also known as desensitisation. AIT switches off the allergic reaction, by repeatedly introducing small doses of allergen extracts, by injection, sublingual tablets, sprays or drops.
AIT is a long term treatment which is usually given over a few years.
It should only be started after assessment by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist to determine if this is a suitable treatment option.
ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.
ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.
For more information go to www.allergy.org.au
To donate to immunology/allergy research go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au
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Can Allergies Be Prevented
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent the manifestation of adult-onset allergies. As we mentioned, these allergies sometimes spring up where none existed before. Other times, exposure to the allergen triggers a reaction. For those reasons, its difficult to say with certainty which triggers you should avoid.
While you cant always prevent adult-onset allergies, you can treat them as they develop. If, for instance, you notice you get an adverse reaction after eating shellfish or peanuts, you should refrain from eating these foods right away. Instead, set up an appointment with an allergy provider who can test your to see what is causing your symptoms
In the case of food allergies, the best treatment is avoidance. For pet dander, pollen, and other standard allergy triggers, you can try medications, including steroid nasal sprays and antihistamines, to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. You can also try to keep yourself away from these allergens via lifestyle adjustments.
Is Rain Good For Allergies
Some seasonal allergy sufferers celebrate the rain because it relieves their symptoms, while others dread it. Why the difference in attitude? It’s because depending on your allergy, rain can either be a good sign or a bad sign.
Does rain make allergies worse? Let’s start with the good things about rain for allergies. Some pollens scatter and collect on outdoor surfaces, accumulating over time. When steady or heavy rains come, they wash away this accumulation of pollen, and that is good news if those types of pollen give you sneezing fits. What’s more, the moisture in the air can weigh down pollens, sending them down to the ground. With enough rainwater, the pollen then flushes down the drain and away from your sinuses.
Of course there’s bad news, too. Sometimes when it rainsespecially during sudden downpoursthe airborne pollens clump together on their way down, then crash apart when they hit the ground, scattering everywhere, and perhaps eventually through your nostrils. There are other problems as well. After enough rain has poured, mold starts to grow, aggravating anyone with mold spore allergies. You may be able to escape somewhat if you reduce the humidity inside your home, which discourages mold. Grasses thrive after the rain too, so grass pollen allergies can also intensify soon after rainfall.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies
Allergy symptoms are classified as mild, moderate or severe:
- Mild reactions include local symptoms such as a rash or hives, itchiness, watery/red eyes, hay fever and runny nose. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of your body.
- Moderate reactions include symptoms that spread to other parts of your body. Symptoms may include itchiness, hives, and/or swelling and trouble breathing.
- A severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which your bodys response to the allergen is sudden and affects the whole body. Anaphylaxis may begin with severe itching of your eyes or face. Within minutes, more serious symptoms appear, including throat swelling , abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, hives and swelling . You may also have mental confusion or dizziness, since anaphylaxis may cause a drop in blood pressure.
Allergy Facts And Figures
An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body or touch. This reaction could cause coughing, sneezing, hives, rashes, itchy eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, it can cause low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks and even death.
There is no cure for allergies. You can manage allergies with prevention and treatment. More Americans than ever say they manage allergies. It is among the countrys most common, but overlooked, diseases.
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Pollen Allergies Are Seasonal
The season for pollen allergies can last for several months and occurs when the plants are flowering. This will vary depending on location and the type of plant. For instance:
- Non-native trees tend to pollinate in late winter and spring.
- In Victoria, winds from the north tend to bring pollen from non-native grasses growing inland between October and December.
- White Cypress pine is the only Australian tree that produces highly allergenic pollen and it flowers approximately between late July and the end of August.
- Species of Casuarina or Australian oak trees produce pollen throughout the year and can cause hay fever symptoms at any time.
Clinical immunology/allergy specialists who diagnose allergies have online calendars showing when common species of pollen cause allergies in the states and territories of Australia.
Getting Help For Allergies
See a GP if you think you or your child might have had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.
A GP can help determine whether it’s likely you have an allergy.
If they think you might have a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to help manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Allergies
The type and severity of allergy symptoms vary from allergy to allergy and person to person. Allergies may show up as itchy eyes, sneezing, a stuffy nose, throat tightness, trouble breathing, vomiting, and even fainting or passing out.
Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can happen just seconds after being exposed to an allergen or not until a few hours later .
So doctors will want anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency. Epinephrine works quickly against serious allergy symptoms for example, it reduces swelling and raises low blood pressure.
Airborne Allergy Symptoms
Airborne allergens can cause something known as allergic rhinitis, which usually develops by 10 years of age, reaches its peak in the teens or early twenties, and often disappears between the ages of 40 and 60.
Symptoms can include:
- a drop in blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
Allergic reactions can vary. Sometimes, a person can have a mild reaction that affects only one body system, like hives on the skin. Other times, the reaction can be more serious and involve more than one part of the body. A mild reaction in the past does not mean that future reactions will be mild.
Does Desert Weather Stop Seasonal Allergies
Will moving to the desert curb seasonal allergy symptoms? This is mostly a myth, with an element of truth to it. It used to be fairly common advice for allergy-sufferers to move to the desert. With their hot, dry climates, deserts are free from a lot of the usual suspects that cause seasonal allergies like ragweed and grass. However, apparently everyone listened. Desert communities like Las Vegas and Phoenix now feature many of the same allergenic plants found elsewhere.
You still may get some relief in a drier climate, though. More remote desert areas can have lower pollen counts, though some people are allergic to desert plants like sagebrush and Russian thistle. You may get some relief from dust, too. Scientists from North Carolina studied different areas around the U.S. for dust mites, the microscopic pests responsible for many indoor allergies. They found that the Great Plains and Mountain West regionsdrier than the coastsproduced fewer dust mites.
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When Does A Person Develop Allergies
Allergies can develop at any point in a persons life. One factor that increases your chance is your family history. If one parent is allergic there is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic.
In many cases, allergies first present early in life, during infancy or the toddler years. Most of these allergies will be lifelong concerns, although some can resolve on their own.
What Is Pollen Allergy
Pollen is fine grains released from grasses, weeds and trees that fertilise other plants. It is carried by insects, birds or the wind and can travel a very long way from the plant where it originated.
Some people are allergic to pollen, meaning the pollen makes their immune system react. If they are exposed to pollen, they can get itchy and inflamed eyes and nasal passages . The pollen can also enter the lungs and trigger asthma symptoms.
The amount of pollen in the air changes according to the season and where you live. For example, pollen counts can be very high in October and November in Melbourne and Hobart, and in the spring and summer in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra. Brisbane and Darwin have high pollen for most of the year.
Allergic rhinitis and asthma are very common in Australia, and people with pollen allergy may experience symptoms for many months. This will depend on where they live and the types of pollen they are allergic to. Many people, however, do not realise that pollen is the cause of their symptoms.
Sometimes pollen can trigger asthma in people who have never had it before, especially after a thunderstorm. This is known as thunderstorm asthma.
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What Things Cause Allergies
Common Airborne Allergens
Some of the most common things people are allergic to are airborne :
Common Food Allergens
Up to 2 million, or 8%, of kids in the United States are affected by food allergies. Eight foods account for most of those: cow’s milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, and wheat.
Other Common Allergens
- Insect allergy. For most kids, being stung by an insect means swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the bite. But for those with insect venom allergy, an insect sting can cause more serious symptoms.
- Medicines. Antibiotics are the most common type of medicines that cause allergic reactions. Many other others, including over-the-counter medicines , also can cause allergic reactions.
- Chemicals. Some cosmetics or laundry detergents can make people break out in hives. Usually, this is because someone has a reaction to the chemicals in these products, though it may not always be an allergic reaction. Dyes, household cleaners, and pesticides used on lawns or plants also can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Some kids also have what are called cross-reactions. For example, kids who are allergic to birch pollen might have symptoms when they eat an apple because that apple is made up of a protein similar to one in the pollen. And for reasons that aren’t clear, people with a latex allergy are more likely to be allergic to foods like kiwi, chestnuts, avocados, and bananas.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Allergy
If you think youre having an allergic reaction right now, seek appropriate treatment in line with the severity of your reaction.
If you think you are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, call Triple Zero for an ambulance.
If your symptoms are not severe, like a rash, watery eyes or itchy nose, see your pharmacist or call 13 HEALTH for advice on over-the-counter medications that might help ease your symptoms.
Allergies can be managed. If you think you are allergic to something, see your GP about creating a plan to identify your allergens so that you can minimise your exposure and understand the appropriate medications available to help manage your condition if necessary.
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Do Kids Typically Outgrow Their Hay Fever
Kids do sometimes outgrow allergies. A lot of food-related allergies can be outgrown, particularly mild ones, though this varies from person to person. But seasonal allergies usually stick with you for life.What can you give a child for allergies? Some people find help from immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or sublingual tablets. That can help you develop a tolerance for a particular allergen. However, once you’ve had an allergic reaction to one thing in your environment , you tend to develop more. That’s known as the priming effect. The priming effect means that once you’ve been primed to react to one allergen, you’re more likely to react to another one. So, once you’ve defeated a grass pollen allergy, a mold allergy might crop up next, or a tree pollen allergy.
Do Flower Bouquets Bring Allergies On
When you have seasonal allergies, pollen counts are something to keep track of. It’s a common comic devicea would-be Romeo handing a woman flowers, only to watch her face flush and sneeze. But are flowers to blame when your seasonal allergies hit? Probably not. Most people aren’t allergic to the pollen in flowers. Instead, it’s the grasses, weeds, and trees that tend to present allergy problems.
Why not flower pollen? As it turns out, flower pollen is relatively heavy. It doesn’t travel as far or as easily as smaller, lighter pollen particles. That’s because flowers are designed to attract bees and other insects, which carry the pollens themselves. Other plants need smaller pollen so the wind can carry it to new locations.
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What Causes Allergic Reactions
The things that people are allergic to, called allergens, are usually everyday substances that other people can tolerate just fine. Common allergens include peanuts and other nuts, animal hair, pollen, crustaceans and fish, mould, dust mites, insect stings and medications.
When a person is allergic to a substance, their immune system reacts to it when it touches their skin, they breathe it in, or they ingest it. Some allergic reactions are driven by antibodies. Antibodies attach themselves to cells in the body called mast cells. When the allergen comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells release substances like histamine, which cause the inflammation and swelling typical of an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can affect the nose, eyes, sinuses, throat, skin, stomach, bowel and lungs.
The nose, eyes, sinuses and throat are affected by allergens that are inhaled. During an allergic reaction, these areas can become swollen, inflamed or itchy, with extra mucus produced in the nose and fluid in the eyes.
The lungs are also affected by allergens that are inhaled. Some people with asthma find their condition is triggered by allergens however, it is possible to have asthma that is not caused by allergens, too.
Hives on the skin can be caused by allergens that have been ingested or allergens that have come into contact with the skin.