The symptoms of allergies are caused by a harmful reaction of the immune system to a substance that is, in fact, not disease-carrying. Common allergens, which can trigger this dysfunctional response of the immune system, are animal dander, pollen and mold. Allergens can enter the body by inhalation, swallowing something or by penetrating the skin.
An allergic reaction consists of a series of events in the body. After the allergen enters the body, the immune system produces an antibody known as IgE. This antibody is meant to bind down the allergen, since the immune system mistakenly recognizes the allergen as disease-carrying.
The antibodies then attach themselves to a type of blood cell known as a mast cell. Once the allergens run into and are bound by the IgE antibodies, the mast cells release chemicals into the body. The main chemical released by the mast cells is known as histamine, and this is primary cause for the symptoms commonly associated with an allergic reaction. These symptoms can include itchy, watery eyes, an itchy, runny nose, rashes, sneezing and hives.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which one can treat allergies. Both prescription and over-the-counter medication is available for allergy treatment, and someone suffering from allergies can also benefit from allergy shots.
Anti-histamines are one form of medication that can be used to treat allergies. Histamines, of course, are released by the mast cells when the antibodies come into contact with the allergens. An anti-histamine blocks the histamines produced by the mast cells, and thus cuts off the allergic reaction. Since allergens can cause someone’s nose to become stuffy, it may make sense to take a decongestant along with an antihistamine. Some well-known over-the-counter antihistamines are Allegra, Claritin and Benadryl.
Another form of treatment for allergies is referred to as an anticholinergic nasal allergy spray. Once these nasal sprays are squirted into the nostril, they can suppress the secretions of the glands that line the nostrils and thus they can help with a runny nose. These sprays should be applied 2-3 times per day. The sprays themselves, however, can trigger an allergic reaction and patients need to be mindful of this.
A form of treatment for a particularly persistent case of allergies is steroid nasal sprays. These sprays alleviate allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Some examples of steroid nasal sprays are Nasonex, Nasarel and Rhinocort. The two side effects of steroid nasal sprays are nosebleeds and and sore throats.
Allergy eye drops are used when an allergic reaction involves problems with the eyes. In an allergic reaction, eyes can become itchy, burn, or become bloodshot. A problem with allergy eye drops is that they may not necessarily treat all the symptoms allergies can cause in eyes. For instance, allergy eye drops may stop eyes from being bloodshot, but they may not relieve itchiness. Allergy eye drops can be obtained either over-the-counter or through a doctor’s prescription.
The final form of treatment for allergies discussed in this paper will be leukotreine inhibitors. An example of one of these inhibitors is Singulair. This drug is powerful, since it can alleviate congestion in the nose and also sneezing and itching. The success of Singulair derives from its ability to inhibit a chemical in the body known as leukotriene, which causes the nasal passages to produce a lot of mucus. Singulair is a prescription medication that is meant to be taken once per day.