Allergies

It has been estimated that nearly 44 million Americans have some form of allergies, and millions of them suffer unnecessarily. Yet, though the number of allergy sufferers is staggering, the percentage of those who seek treatment from their physicians is low.

Types

Seasonal
These occur at the same time each year, often when certain plants are in bloom.

Year-round
These can occur any time during the year.

It is also possible to develop an allergic reaction to certain drugs, foods or insect bites.

Causes

Allergens are substances that trigger allergies. Seasonal allergies can be caused by a number of different allergens, such as windblown pollens found in grasses, trees, plants or weeds. Year-round allergies can be caused by allergens such as mold, dust mites, or animal dander, which is the skin cells shed from animals such as cats and dogs.

It is not known why some people develop allergies and others do not. Some experts suggest that allergies tend to run in families.

Symptoms

Allergies can sneak up on you with symptoms like those of a common cold virus. But a runny or congested nose, sneezing, red and watery eyes, cough and sinus headache and sore throat that last for more than a week, which is the typical duration of a cold, are more likely signs of allergies. Other symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, pressure in the ear or discomfort or pain in the face.