If you are in the Salt Lake City Utah area and you can schedule an allergy doctor appointment or contact us with any of your allergy related questions.
Allergies may trigger hay fever, skin rashes, frequent headaches, and acute digestive problems. You may often feel run down, have constant nasal stuffiness, or have a hard time getting enough sleep. Complications of allergies can also include frequent sinus infections and ear infections.
Skin rashes such as eczema may bother you with their itchiness, or you might feel sick after eating certain foods. Children may have attention problems or memory problems at school because of allergy symptoms. Both children and adults may avoid sports because they get winded too fast, wheeze, or cough a lot after exercising.
Managing your allergy symptoms will result in fewer related health problems. If you have allergies, you also have an increased risk of developing other allergy-related ailments. You can read more about these Allergy-related topics below.
• Sinusitis — a sinus infection
• Nasal polyps — may form in nasal cavities, causing sinus infections
• Allergic Rhinitis — Hay Fever, animal allergies, and other air-borne allergies
• Ear infections
• Eye inflammation and conjunctivitis
• Eczema — atopic dermatitis
• Environmental Illness Symptoms — which may include headaches, fatigue, nausea, asthma, and rashes; sick building syndrome
• Hives and rashes
• Asthma — wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
• Food Allergy symptoms, medication allergies, and food intolerances and related problems — including: rashes, swollen lips, tingling mouth, cramps, diarrhea, an upset stomach, wheezing, dizziness, or hives
• Insect Allergies— including bee sting reactions
• Allergy & Asthma Related School Problems
• Allergy statistics, genetics, and other information
Sinusitis (a sinus infection)
What is a sinus infection?
The sinuses are small empty air chambers located behind the skull bone in the face, cheeks, behind the eyes, and forehead. These empty chambers have the job of making mucus, a body fluid that traps germs and bacteria from the air you breath. In a healthy person, this mucus will slowly drain out the nose, taking the harmful bacteria with it.
Now let’s look at what happens to this mucus the sinuses make if you have allergy symptoms.
An allergic reaction is taking place. Excess mucus is pouring out. You’re sneezing. You nose is running a lot. At the same time, allergens are being inhaled and irritating the tissue lining the sinus chambers more and more. Then the tissues become inflamed, partially or fully closing off the sinus’s drainage canal. All that excess mucus made in the sinus cavity is still there. It’s now trapped in the sinuses. This trapped mucus then sits in the sinuses and can easily become infected, causing a sinus infection.
If left untreated, Sinusitis may last from 4-8 weeks. People with allergies are susceptible to chronic sinusitis, which means you get 2 or more sinus infections per year. Taking care of your allergies can help minimize sinus infections.
Common Sinusitis Symptoms include:
• cold-like symptoms lasting longer than 7-10 days
• stuffy or runny nose
• mucus that is thick, cloudy, or yellow
• sore throat
• chest discomfort
• general weakness and fatigue
• headache that feels worse when you bend over
• sinus headaches (with localized pain in the sinuses)
• a cold that seems to start to get better then gets worse
• facial pain or pressure located in one of the sinus areas: face, cheeks, behind the eyes, and forehead
Allergies can cause nasal polyps to form. Nasal polyps are soft, usually round, non-cancerous growths on the lining of your sinuses or nose. These sac-like tissues can block the sinus passages, resulting in chronic sinus infections.
Nasal polyps occur from chronic irritation to the nasal and sinus tissues, such as is caused by allergic rhinitis and airborne allergies. They are more common in people over 40, and in children or adults with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and cystic fibrosis.
Symptoms of Nasal polyps may include:
• Difficulty breathing
• Constant post-nasal drip
• Lessened sense of smell
• Frequent sinus infections
• Occasionally, nasal polyps may grow so large that they can alter the shape of your face
Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever and other air-borne allergies)
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic Rhinitis (which includes Hay Fever) is defined as an allergic reaction to anything you breathe in the air. This could be seasonal pollen released from weeds, grasses, and trees. It could also be an allergic reaction to dust mites, animal dander, mold, or household chemicals.
If a case of allergic rhinitis is caused by pollen, it will be seasonal, and symptoms will come and go. Other allergies will only occur when you come in contact with the allergen, such as a household cleaning product or pet dander. Still other allergens, such as dust or mold, may live in your home or workplace and, if left untreated, will make you feel somewhat sick and run down most of the year.
The allergic reaction occurs when the body overreacts to certain particles in the air, treating them as invading bacteria or viruses. The body attacks these particles in the air (called allergens) and this attack causes the unpleasant symptoms most of us are familiar with—sneezing, runny nose, and other allergy symptoms to occur. So, contrary to popular belief, it is an overactive immune system, and not an under-active one, that causes allergy symptoms.
Common Allergic Rhinitis and Hay Fever symptoms include:
• frequent sneezing—especially when you first wake up
• stuffy nose
• itchy and watery eyes
• itchy nose, ears, roof of mouth, and throat
• pressure in the nose and cheeks
• ear pressure, pain, or popping
• dark circles under the eyes
• runny nose—mucus will be clear and thin; if it starts looking thick, cloudy, or yellow, you might have a sinus infection. Other discoloration in the mucus may indicate a cold or other infection.
Mold allergies are at their worst during rainy, humid weather. Bathrooms, basements, shower curtains, window sills, hay, commercial peat moss, and rotting logs can be a source of year-round mold exposure.
Animal dander allergies can occur anytime you are exposed to furry pets such as cats and dogs. Animal fur, saliva, and skin has proteins that cause allergic reactions in many people. You don’t have to touch an animal to start sneezing. House dust in a house with an animal can cause an allergic reaction—and that’s just about everywhere.
Dust Mites are microscopic living beings that live in bedding, pillows, mattresses, carpeting, and upholstery. They are most common in humid climates. They cannot live in very dry areas. Dust mite dander and feces cause allergic reactions in many people. If you have an allergy to dust mites and live in a humid climate, you probably have symptoms all year.
Environmental Illnessoccurs when you are exposed to air-borne allergens or chemicals in your work, home, or play environment. Symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, nausea, asthma, and rashes. Chemicals you are exposed to at work, while remodeling, or at home can cause frequent headaches, unexplained fatigue, nausea, and even asthma. Check with your allergy doctor to help eliminate any environmental illness triggers.
Swimmer’s ear happens when germs enter the outer ear, causing mild pain and irritation. But when bacteria or viruses enter the middle ear, an ear infection can occur. Ear infections—whose medical term is otitis media—cause a variety of symptoms, from mild to severe. Allergies have been identified as a risk factor in frequent ear infections.
What is an ear infection?
We are in constant contact with germs of all sorts, but most of them never make it into the middle ear. When the Eustachian (say: yoo-stay-she-un) tubes fail to keep bacteria and viruses at bay, they enter into the middle ear. These germs cause the middle ear to fill up with fluid or pus. This causes fever, and mild to severe pain in the ear.
After the pus has been building up for a while, the eardrum may burst or rupture if left unchecked. After it bursts, the fluid drains out the outer ear, and the most severe pain usually stops. Within a few weeks, the hole in the eardrum may heal up.
Common Ear Infection symptoms include:
• Mild to severe ear pain (infants may tug at their ears)
• Vomiting or loss of appetite
• Difficulty sleeping
• Irritability and grumpy behavior
• Temporary loss of hearing
• Thick, yellow drainage from the ear. If there is blood in the drainage, the eardrum may have ruptured.
Symptoms of fluid buildup in the middle ear may include:
• Dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems and
• Irritability and grumpy behavior
• Popping, ringing, or a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
• Loss of hearing
Our best defense against Ear Infections
Luckily, the body has great protective devices against ear infections— Eustachian (say: yoo-stay-she-un) tubes.
Eustachian tubes are located on each side of the head, and connect each of the middle ears with the throat. They keep pressure from building up in the ears, by letting air in and out of your ears. They also keep infection out.
Young children (under 3) do not have very long or well-functioning Eustachian tubes, and the tubes often don’t work very well at keeping out ear infections until about age three. That’s why most children get at least one ear infection by the age of two. But past the age of three, most people aren’t troubled with ear infections. Unless you have allergies.
Allergies and Eustachian tubes
People with allergies often get more ear infections than other people—as infants, children, and even as adults. The reason lies in the Eustachian tubes. When you have an allergic reaction (or a cold, for that matter) you experience congestion—a stuffy nose, an abundance of mucus, etc. This mucus blocks up the Eustachian tubes, keeping them from working well. Without the Eustachian tubes to control germs, bacteria and viruses can now enter into the middle ear and an ear infection may develop.
If you are having multiple allergy attacks every week, or have constant congestion and stuffiness, you are much more likely to develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, and other related problems.
Identifying and controlling your allergies with your allergy doctor will help prevent ear infections caused by allergies. By minimizing the congestion and mucus buildup you experience, you also lessen your chances for getting an ear infection. You can try out over the counter allergy medications or talk to your doctor about prescription allergy medications and other preventative treatments.
Have you ever heard that you can’t catch an ear infection? That’s true. The colds causing many ear infections can be passed around, but the ear infection itself is a complication of cold or allergy symptoms. In fact, the ear infections caused by allergies aren’t caught from anyone.
Eye inflammation and conjunctivitis
A frequent complaint among people with allergies is eye discomfort and irritation. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 22 million Americans with allergies also have allergic conjunctivitis. Like many other types of allergies, eye allergies appear to have a strong hereditary factor.
Eye allergies causes redness, tearing, and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Pollens and other air-borne allergens can stick to contact lenses, making wearing contact lenses unbearable at some times of the year. Your allergist or eye doctor can prescribe eye drops that can help keep your contacts clean. Disposable lenses may also help.
What is conjunctivitis?
The symptoms of eye allergies are referred to as Allergic conjunctivitis.
There are two types of conjunctivitis—Allergic conjunctivitis and conjunctivitis caused by an infection, often called pinkeye. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, being caused by allergens.
Conjunctivitis due to an infection—“Pinkeye”—is caused by a virus or bacteria. It is highly contagious and should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. The symptoms of pinkeye are similar to those of Allergic conjunctivitis, but often include scratchy, sandy, or burning eyes.
Symptoms of Eye Allergies / Allergic Conjunctivitis Include:
• Itchy eyes
• Bloodshot eyes
• Watery eyes
• Red eyes
• Puffy, inflamed eyelids
What causes Eye Allergies?
Allergens are everywhere. Dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander are the most common triggers for eye allergies. When these allergens in the air come into contact with the eyes, the eyes react to these allergens.
As with other allergies, the eye tissues perceive the inherently harmless allergen (such as house dust or cat dander) as an invading organism. The immune system then revs up into action, causing tearing, redness, and all the symptoms associated with eye allergies.
Eye Allergy Triggers
• Pet dander
• Drugs that come into contact with the eyes, such as antibiotic eye drops
Food allergies and insect stings do not normally cause eye irritation.
Treatment for Allergic conjunctivitis
• avoid exposure to the offending allergen
• prescription or over-the-counter eye drops with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers
Eczema (including atopic dermatitis)
Eczema is the condition that causes intense itching and skin sensitivity. Patches of the skin will become itchy, sore, red, and dry—in the more severe cases the skin will become blistered, cracked, and leathery.
Patches of eczema are most common on the following areas:
• elbows (may affect creases of elbows)
• knees (may affect creases under the knees)
However, eczema can also appear almost anywhere on the body—a patch on the upper arm, a small patch on the buttocks. Interestingly, studies show that usually, if a person is going to have eczema throughout their life, Eczema most often occurs by the age of two.
Symptoms of Eczema may include:
• red, scaly, and itchy rash (Atopic dermatitis in older children and adults)
• bubbling or oozing rash (Atopic dermatitis in infants)
• intense itchiness
• patches of red, inflamed skin
• sensitive skin
• more itchy at night; it may disrupt sleep
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, although there are several types of eczema. “Atopic” refers to the fact that this appears to be an inherited allergic reaction. Infants who will develop atopic allergy conditions already have allergy-related antibodies (IgE) in their blood when they are born, passed to them from parents who had allergies.
Studies show that people who have Atopic dermatitis are more likely to develop other allergy-related ailments, including asthma and hay fever. Some studies show that 75% of children with atopic dermatitis will also develop hay fever, while 50% will develop asthma.
So if you or your child has eczema (Atopic dermatitis), look for the early warning signs of hay fever and asthma. These include coughing, a runny nose, or a scratchy throat. If it is a cold, these symptoms should pass in 7-10 days. If they last longer, they might be the early stages of asthma or hay fever.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reported recently that Atopic dermatitis is occurring more often than in the past. They calculate that up to 30% of people within the U.S. now have Atopic dermatitis.
There are many irritants that can cause a flare up or make eczema symptoms worse.
Eczema irritants to avoid include:
• wool fabric
• synthetic fabric
• permanent-press fabrics
• scratchy fabrics or scratchy decorations on clothes
• latex and rubber
• fabric softeners
• detergents, particularly scented detergents
• chlorine-based products
• earrings, watchbands, and other plated jewelry containing nickel
• foam insulation
• perfumes, perfumed lotions and personal care products
• chemicals such as formaldehyde
• furniture polish
• rugs containing formaldehyde
• particle board
• overly dry skin
Home-care for Eczema Tips
According to the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, there are several home-care treatments that can be tried alone or in conjunction with a prescription medication plan outlined by your allergy doctor.
These home-care eczema tips are:
- moisturize skin regularly with non-irritating lotion
- wear soft cotton fabric clothing
- avoid hot water in showers and baths (use lukewarm water instead to minimize itching)
- use mild soaps and detergents
- avoid using fabric softener, as it often irritates skin
Hives and rashes
A rash is a sore, red, irritated patch of skin. They can be caused by exposure to sun or heat, to chemicals, or to allergens. Eczema is a type of rash often associated with allergies. Other rashes can also be related to allergens. For more information on eczema, please see “Eczema,” above. Bee stings and other insect bites can also cause rashes, along with other symptoms in more serious conditions.
The doctor might call your hives urticaria (say: ur-tuh-kar-ee-uh), the medical term for hives. Hives are patches of itchy skin with red or pink raised bumps on it. Sometimes the bumps have a white center, sometimes they do not. They invariably itch, and sometimes they burn and sting as well.
Hives can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a dinner plate. They may last a few minutes or a few days.
Hives can be caused by a the following factors:
• airborne allergic reactions
• food allergies (such as milk, shellfish, berries, and nuts)
• nitrates in foods (found in hot dogs and processed meats)
• aspartame in foods (artificial sweetener, known as NutriSweet)
• medication allergies (such as antibiotics)
• insect stings or bites
• food additives such as BHA, BHT (in grains and cereals), FC&C yellow dye No. 5 ( Tartrtzine)
• Sulfites in foods (found in canned, frozen, dehydrated foods; in alcoholic beverages; in shrimp; and in processed grain foods such as crackers and cookies)
• exposure to the cold
• sun exposure
• stress or nervousness
• infections caused by viruses
Recent studies indicate that up to 25% of people get hives at some point in their lives. Many people with hives have allergies. However, having hives does not always indicate allergies, though having frequent outbreaks of hives often does. If you get hives more than once or twice a year, check with your doctor. An allergy doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergic conditions can help you eliminate these troublesome and itchy outbreaks.
Asthma and Allergies
People with asthma very often also have other allergy conditions such as hay fever, hives, or food allergies. Yet allergies and asthma are distinct conditions and should not be confused. Asthma and allergies both involve a response from the immune system. The biggest difference is that the lungs are affected in asthma.
People with asthma have hypersensitive lung tissues lining their airways. These tissues swell up when they breathe in irritants or allergens (substances they are allergic to). These irritants and allergens are treated as invaders, even though they are actually harmless to most people. The airways of the lungs then begin to contract (get smaller). As the airways swell, mucus is also made, which causes congestion and further constriction of the airways. This is what causes an “asthma attack.”
Symptoms of asthma include:
• Chest congestion
• Shortness of breath
You do not need to have all of these symptoms to have asthma.
Asthma is a serious condition and you should consult with your doctor if you suspect that you have asthma. For more information on asthma, please see the asthma article.
Food Allergy symptoms, medication allergy, and food intolerances
There are many types of foods that may trigger allergic reactions in some people. Usually the symptoms are mild—a stuffy nose, an upset stomach, or a rash. These reactions are unpleasant but not life threatening.
About 7 in 100 children have a food allergy, and 2 out of 100 adults do (kids tend to outgrow food allergies). Serious food allergies are more rare, such as the well-known peanut allergy that can be fatal. Common food allergies include milk, shellfish, berries, and nuts, and wheat.
Children with food allergies may be more fussy, vomit often, have diarrhea a lot, and might not grow as quickly as other children. Although children often outgrow food allergies, adults with food allergies are not going to ever outgrow it. By age five, most children will outgrow allergies to milk, wheat, eggs, and soy. Children seldom outgrow allergies to fish or peanuts.
Food intolerances are often more mild than allergies, although they can cause painful digestive problems. They do not involve the immune system. Food intolerance symptoms take several hours to appear, and symptoms are generally all related to the digestive system. Food intolerance symptoms include: cramping, nausea, vomiting, sharp cramping, and diarrhea. A food allergy, on the other hand, involves the immune system and can be more severe. In addition to digestive symptoms, it may also involve hives or wheezing. A doctor or allergy doctor can perform testing to determine whether a food problem is an intolerance or an allergy. An untreated food allergy can cause other problems if not taken care of.
If you suspect a food allergy, talk to your allergy doctor. He or she can help identify and test for the food allergy and help you find ways to avoid and manage the condition.
Symptoms of food allergy include:
• swollen lips
• tingling mouth
• upset stomach
The serious and potentially fatal symptoms of anaphylaxis, related to food allergies and insect bites, include: rapid swelling of mouth and tongue, vomiting, and unconsciousness. Call 911 if you suspect a serious attack of anaphylaxis.
When you pick up a prescription drug from the pharmacy, the pharmacist should give you information on what the most common side effects are with that particular medication. Sometimes side effects are mild, other times they are more serious. Mild side effects may include a slight headache or tiredness. Other side effects should be reported immediately to your doctor.
The most common reactions to prescription medication that may indicate an allergy include:
Antibiotics and Penicillin are the prescription drugs most likely to cause an allergic reaction. Medication allergies can develop at any age. Aspirin can trigger asthma symptoms, so be cautious of this if you have asthma. Children should never be given aspirin, as it can cause serious medical problems if the child has a virus.
Allergies & Asthma in Children
Children and teens with untreated allergies and asthma can experience many problems at school.
Asthma in Children
Exercise-induced asthma can cause many children with asthma to learn to avoid strenuous exercise. However, most children with asthma can participate in regular exercise with proper medication and avoidance of environmental irritants (which may include smog, poor air quality, cold and dry air, smoke, increased allergens in the air, and high wind).
Medications in School
Not all states allow children the right to carry and administer their own asthma medication. Some states have a nurse administer all medications. Some states may allow children this right, but making sure the kids really carry their inhalers to recess will really be up to the parent and the child. If your child has asthma, and is old enough to self-administer, make sure he or she has a convenient way to keep their inhaler with them.
Certain states allow children the right to carry asthma medication but not injectable epinephrine. Injectable epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is the self-administered shot used for anaphylaxis—a life threatening allergic reaction that involves the entire body. The EpiPen is one type of injectable epinephrine.
Check out the laws in your state regarding children and medication at: www.breeatherville.org/cityhall
Allergy & AsthmaRelatedSchool Problems may include:
• poor concentration
• decreased memory
• grumpiness, irritability, and poor social skills
• avoidance of exercise
• poor athletic performance due to coughing, wheezing, or congestion
• increased school absences
• ear aches
• hearing problems
When a child’s allergies are identified and managed by an allergy doctor and the child’s parents, school can become a pleasant place of learning again. Informing your child’s teacher of his or her allergies or asthma is an important step in ensuring a safe and understanding atmosphere for your child.
Hay Fever and children
If you don’t know your child’s runny nose is due to seasonal allergies like hay fever, the cold-like symptoms may result in your child missing more school. Teachers and nurses may also send your child home if they notice these symptoms and do not know they are allergy related.
If you do suspect hay fever and send your child to school regardless of the runny nose, allergy symptoms certainly interfere with a child’s learning. Imagine having a bad cold for three months out of the year and having to spend 7 or 8 hours a day taking tests, listening to lectures, running laps, playing soccer at recess, and studying challenging subjects.
Children whose allergies are not treated have lower academic performance. A case of untreated allergies also results in lowered performance in sports, P.E., and other recreational activities. Self-esteem and peer acceptance can also be lowered if a child is often not feeling well and feeling grouchy.
In addition to common pollen allergies, school classrooms often contain other environmental allergens that may trigger allergy attacks. Chalk, dust, mold, or classroom pets may trigger allergy-like symptoms in school-age-children that the parents may never notice at home. A poorly ventilated classroom can exacerbate these allergens.
Ear Problems and Children
Allergies are also associated with ear problems. Allergies cause increased congestion, and increased risk of ear infections. Both of these ailments can result in hearing problems, sometimes just temporary until the congestion goes away.
In children, ear congestion and mild hearing problems may often go undetected. Associate yourself with the signs of hearing problems and have your child’s hearing checked regularly, including during allergy season.
Signs of Hearing Problems in Children
• difficulty following directions
• changes in behavior
• poor scholastic performance in school
• frequent daydreaming during class
Ear infections in Children
Ear infections (otitis media) are a significant concern with children, as they can cause hearing loss if not taken care of properly. Ear infections can be caused by a variety of factors, from colds viruses to allergies. Children with frequent ear infections are likely to have allergies. If you can manage your child’s allergy symptoms, the incidence of ear infections generally decreases.
Food Allergies and Children
The incidence of food allergies is on the rise among children. In the U.S., 7 out of 100 children have a food allergy. Having a food allergy can affect a child’s school and social experiences.
If your child has food allergies, you will need to inform your child’s teachers. Children with food allergies may need to take their lunch, or take it on certain days. Talk to the cafeteria staff about the menu items, the complete list of ingredients, and also about food substitutions if they allow that.
Many classrooms have several school parties throughout the year. During these parties, teachers or volunteers may give out treats your child cannot eat. Providing a special treat on school party days would be helpful if your child’s allergy does not allow him or her to enjoy the refreshments. Check with your child’s teacher to find out what days parties may be scheduled for.
Children with food allergies need to be taught as young as possible what foods they cannot eat. This will help them in social situations and when you cannot be there with your child. Inform your child’s friends and the friend’s parents of any serious allergy.
Daycare providers and babysitters should always be given complete asthma and allergy information. Medications, directions, and doctor and emergency information should also be given to them.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
National Institutes of Health
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America — www.aafa.org
Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis.
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