Category: Allergy & Asthma Patient Education

What are Environmental Allergens?

What are Environmental Allergens?

Environmental allergens are the substances in our environment to which you become allergic. Allergens can be pollens, which are released into the air by trees, grasses and weeds. Allergens can also be pet dander (skin cells and proteins that all mammals normally shed) and pet saliva. Dust mites (microscopic mites that live in carpet, bedding and upholstery) and cockroaches can make allergic substances as well. Finally, mold can also be an environmental allergen.
Why do I have allergies?

The predisposition or risk to develop allergies is inherited from your parent(s). If you are at risk for developing allergies and are exposed to certain allergenic substances, you may become allergic. Developing allergies to substances in your environment takes time. For allergens that are present all year round, such as pet dander and dust mites, allergies can develop over a period as short as a few months. For allergens that are only present for short periods of time, such as pollens and molds, allergies often take several years to develop. Science has not yet determined why some people who are at risk develop allergies and other people who are at risk do not.

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What Are Pet Allergies?

Are Pet Allergies common?

Allergic symptoms due to pets are common, it is estimated that about 10% of patients may be allergic to animals. Most commonly, patients are allergic to dog and cat allergen, but birds, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs can cause allergic symptoms as well. Additionally, outdoor pets such as horses, cows, goats, sheep, and chickens can be problematic to certain patients.
What symptoms do Pet Allergies cause?

Allergic symptoms due to pets can include runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching. They can also cause eye symptoms of itching, swelling, redness and watering. The lower airway can also be involved including coughing and wheezing. For some patients, hives and swelling can be due to pet allergens. The allergen of the pet is found in their dander (shed epithelial or skin cells), in their saliva and in their urine. In general, pet hair is not considered to be an important allergen.
What do Allergists recommend?

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What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways in the lung due to inflammation or swelling. This inflammation of the air tubes makes it more difficult to get air through the tubes. In addition to inflammation, lungs with asthma often make excess mucous and the muscles around each air tube are more likely to constrict (bronchoconstriction) and cause the airways to become even smaller. So there are three different causes of asthma inside the lungs that lead to the symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
For many Colorado patients with asthma the symptoms are not present every day, but may increase if triggered by a viral illness, exercise, tobacco exposure or allergen exposure (pet dander or pollens). Research has shown that inflammation of the lungs is still present even if you feel well in between episodes of breathing problems.

How is Asthma Diagnosed?

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What is Exercise Induced Asthma?

What are the symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma?

The symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma may include trouble breathing, chest tightness, coughing or trouble catching your breath during or after exercise. Most, but not all, patients with asthma have exercise induced asthma as well. A patient can also have asthma that is ONLY induced by exercise and not other triggers.

How is Exercise Induced Asthma diagnosed?

Exercise Induced Asthma usually diagnosed by history and testing. The testing may include an exercise challenge which will be completed by the allergist. The purpose of diagnosing Exercise Induced Asthma is to maximize the patients exercise tolerance and exercise safety.

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What are Hives or Urticaria?

What is Urticaria?

Urticaria or hives are a skin rash that is typically red or white in colored, raised and usually itchy. The location and the size of the individual hives or welts can change from day to day. For some patients, the skin rash is associated with swelling also called angioedema. Urticaria can be short lived, also called ACUTE, or longer lasting, also called CHRONIC. Generally, daily or near-daily hives for more than 6 weeks are considered chronic. This separation is important in that most instances of ACUTE hives will resolve and will not return. Chronic Urticaria or Hives are likely to persist for months and possibly years. There is also a higher likelihood that Chronic Urticaria may be associated with another underlying disease or disorder. Based on the specifics of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend additional testing.

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What is a Medication Allergy?

Each patient is unique and may react differently to a medication. For example, one patient may take a medication and develop a rash while the next patient takes the same medication and does not have any adverse or bad reaction. An allergist can help a patient deal with medication allergic reactions.

What is the difference between a Medication Allergy and a Medication Adverse Reaction?

A Medication Allergy is caused by an interaction between the medication and the immune system of a patient and this results in an Allergic Reaction (see the next question). A medication adverse reaction is any symptom or reaction that occurs due to taking a medication. Only about 5% of all ‘adverse reactions” are due to allergic responses. The rest of these adverse reactions are not related to the allergic immune system.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

An allergic reaction is a combination of allergy symptoms due to the body reacting to an allergen. In simple terms, the allergen (which may be a medication) is recognized by the patient’s immune system as “foreign or bad” and the immune system reacts. The reaction is seen as symptoms which may include rash, itching, hives, swelling, trouble breathing or swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, or light-headedness. A patient does NOT need to have all of these symptoms for the reaction to be an ‘allergic reaction’. The most severe type of allergic reaction is call anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction which affects many different parts of the body and can be life-threatening.

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What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction or rash that is caused by certain substance that come into contact with your skin.

What does Contact Dermatitis look like?

Contact dermatitis can be itchy or painful and can appear red and scaly. At times there are blisters or open skin.

What are some common triggers of Contact Dermatitis?

Common triggers include metals such as Nickel sulfate, perfumes or fragrances which are added to soaps and lotions, dyes, and latex.

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What are Food Allergies?

How common is Food Allergy and why does it seem so much more common?

Nearly 4% of children and 2% of adults have food allergies. There is some evidence that the presence of food allergy is increasing, but the reason that this may be occurring is not fully understood yet.

What is Food Allergy?

Food allergy is defined as an allergic reaction to a food allergen (usually the protein portion of the food). In a patient with a food allergy, he/she has specific antibodies called IgE antibodies that recognize specific food allergens. The binding between the food allergen and the food specific IgE molecule then lead to allergic symptoms. Food allergy is typically immediate (occurs within 6 hours of ingestion) and reproducible (occurs with each ingestion). Food allergy predominately occurs with ingestion of the food although a smaller group of food allergic patients may react with skin symptoms after skin contact with a food allergen. Aerosolized food allergen reactions can occur but are very rare and are more common with fish and shellfish allergy.

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