More than 50 million Americans deal with some form of allergies each year. As the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., allergies are one of the most common, overlooked diseases in America. If left untreated, allergies can negatively impact your health long-term, or in some rare cases, such as with anaphylaxis, be life-threatening.
Texas is known as an allergy hot spot, which is why Texas residents can have a difficult time avoiding environmental allergens. One reason for this could be the mild weather which enables plants to pollinate year-round.
Anyone, regardless of age, can be affected by allergies, but some people are more prone to them than others and may benefit from seeing a doctor. An allergic reaction can occur suddenly, or it can take your immune system a few years to respond. Keep reading to learn more about allergies, their triggers and symptoms, and the benefits of allergy blood testing at a medical clinic Katy, TX residents can rely on for quality treatment and care.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to an unknown substance or an allergen. This foreign substance is harmless to most people, but you have an allergic reaction each time you encounter it. The reason is your immune system views the allergen as a threat, so it produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies trigger your cells to release chemicals called histamine into the blood, causing an allergic reaction.
Here are some common allergy symptoms:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Stomach pain
- Itchy mouth or ears
- Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
Depending on your health and medical history, these allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and affect your skin, sinuses, airways, and digestive tract. If you have some of these symptoms, you should discuss your condition with a doctor Katy, TX residents know and trust: Dr. Quyen Trinh, DO of Mason Park Medical Clinic.
Types of Allergies
Unfortunately, allergies can develop at any time and affect people of all ages. Your family history and environmental conditions are two main factors that play a significant role in how susceptible you are to developing allergies.
Hundreds of everyday substances can trigger an allergic reaction. Here are just a few of the most common allergens:
- Animals and insects
- Dust mites
- Pollen from trees, grass or weeds
- Milk and egg
- Seafood and shellfish
- Wheat, soy, peanut, and tree nuts
- Fruits and vegetables
While allergies are common during childhood, they can develop at any time, even in adulthood. Some children stop reacting to specific allergens, such as milk and egg, as they grow, but allergies to foods like nuts and fish tend to remain into adulthood.
Here are a few of the most common types of allergies and their symptoms:
- Seasonal Allergies – These allergies usually occur during the spring and fall when pollen levels are the highest. Seasonal allergies can cause symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose.
- Year-round Allergies – These are everyday allergies that stay year-round regardless of the season. These allergens are in your homes, such as dust mites, mold, and pets. Year-round allergies can cause symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, and sneezing.
- Allergy-Induced Asthma – This type of allergy can occur when allergens trigger asthmatic responses for people sensitized to them. Some common symptoms can include wheezing or shortness of breath.
- Food Allergies – Food allergens can range from mild to severe, and in rare cases, trigger anaphylaxis. That is why you must know if you are intolerant, such as lactose intolerance, or if you are allergic to foods such as eggs, milk, or peanuts. Food allergy symptoms can include digestive issues, hives, and intense itching.
- Insect Sting Allergy – A bite or sting from an insect can trigger an immediate allergic response in people sensitized to this allergen. Some symptoms can include pain, redness, and itching. In rare cases, anaphylaxis reactions can occur.
- Wheat Allergy – These allergies are most common among children who usually outgrow them. Wheat allergy symptoms can include hives, nausea, and stomach cramps. On rare occasions, wheat allergies can cause severe reactions like anaphylaxis.
There are no cures for allergies, but they can be managed through treatment with the help of an experienced primary care physician in Katy, TX. The first step is to identify which allergens you are allergic to, then work with a general practitioner to come up with the appropriate treatment plan to help you control them.
Types of Allergy Tests
Healthcare providers and allergists have several types of allergy tests to determine how a patient’s body reacts to specific allergens. Your primary care physician may test you use blood tests, skin-prick tests, food challenge tests, and allergy provocation tests.
The two main allergy tests that healthcare professionals widely use are allergy blood tests and skin-prick tests. Both tests are effective ways to test for allergens, but there are some advantages to allergy blood testing that skin-prick tests cannot provide.
Benefits of Allergy Blood Test vs. Skin-Prick Test
An allergy blood test, or specific IgE (sIgE) blood test, is a reliable and accurate way to diagnose your allergies by measuring the level of particular antibodies in the blood. One simple blood sample measures hundreds of allergens.
Here are a few more benefits of allergy blood testing vs. skin-prick:
- Blood tests are not affected by medication, so there is no need to stop taking antihistamines a week before the test.
- Blood tests are better options for people with sensitive skin, eczema, or severe allergic reactions. This is critical for people who are at higher risk for anaphylactic reactions.
- Blood tests are better for infants and young children. A single needle prick for a blood sample is much less traumatic than repeated scratching of a skin-prick test.
Contact Us to Get Allergy Relief
When you need a primary care physician Katy, TX residents know they can depend on for quality care, Mason Park Medical is the Katy clinic for you. Our qualified team of medical practitioners is ready to help you take control of your allergies. Call us at (281) 646-0740 to schedule your allergy blood test today. If you prefer, you can book an appointment online.