Allergies & the Environment

Many people suffer from allergic “rhinitis” allergies or hay fever and bronchial asthma.  There are an estimated 14.6 million people in the United States with asthma and another 14.6 million with allergic rhinitis.  Individuals can develop asthma and allergic rhinitis at any age, not just during childhood.

Many substances can trigger asthma or allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals.  These substances are divided into specific allergens and non-specific irritants.  Allergens are substances that cause allergy symptoms because the body has developed a specific allergy-causing antibody to a particular material.  This type of allergy-causing antibody is termed immunoglobulin-E or IgE antibody.  Allergens which can cause the body to produce IgE antibodies include pollens, dust mites, molds, cockroaches, animal dander, foods, and in some cases medications.

Other substances that can cause symptoms are non-specific irritants.  Irritants will cause airway irritation for most people if they receive enough exposure.  However, individuals with airways already irritated by their allergies will respond to a much lower dose of these nonspecific irritants.  The body does not produce specific IgE antibodies to irritants, unlike allergens.  Irritants include perfumes, tobacco smoke, fumes, and odors from wood stoves, paint, newspaper print, car exhaust, household cleaners, furniture waxes, room deodorizers and fireplaces, weather changes, exercise, viral infections and some medications. Both irritant and allergen substances that cause symptoms also are known as triggers.

Symptoms include sneezing, itchy nose or eyes, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, runny nose, watery eyes, a cold that doesn’t go away, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain or tightness.  Individuals may be able to reduce symptoms by avoiding exposure to substances known to trigger their symptoms.  Additionally, since many individuals spend 90 percent of their time indoors, controlling their environment is an important part of the comprehensive treatment plan, along with medications and, if necessary, allergy injections.

Contact us today to start getting your asthma or allergic disease under control. We have answers. We can help.