Allergy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

An allergy is an overreaction of your body's immune system to certain harmless foreign substances, called allergens, which it mistakes for a harmful substance. Allergy can cause common symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching, rashes, diarrhea, among others. Most of the allergies are nothing too severe, but some cases can be life-threatening and immediate medical care is required.

Most indoor allergens are dust mites, pet dander, paint, or mold, so it's very difficult to escape any of these. Being exposed to these can trigger an allergic reaction, which can be called an indoor allergy. Common symptoms of indoor allergy include irritated eyes, sneezing, coughing, swollen, or sore throat, stuffy nose, and clear nasal discharge.

The world outside is filled with beautiful places but it is also filled with pollen, pollution and molds. They are among the most common allergens for an outdoor allergy. The slightest exposure to either of these allergens can easily trigger an allergic reaction from a person suffering from outdoor allergy. Some of the most common symptoms of outdoor allergies may include itchy eyes, sneezing/stuffy/runny nose.

The first distinction between the two, as their names imply, is that one occurs due to outdoor allergens like pollen, pollution and mold, while the other is caused by indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold, food, etc. Although the symptoms of both allergy types may often overlap, when and where they strike differ. Read more about this in on the tab titled What's Your Allergy.

Allergy is a condition of hypersensitivity caused by the overreaction of your body's immune system to harmless foreign substances around you. It has various triggers present indoors and outdoors. On the other hand, asthma is a chronic lung disease which makes breathing hard and difficult. Asthma can be of two types, allergic and non-allergic. Non-allergic asthma is caused by stress, medication, smoke, air temperature and infected airways. While allergic asthma can be triggered with common allergens present in the air such as pollen, dust and mold. Common symptoms of asthma may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Similar to allergy, asthma cannot be cured either.

A food allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance from food, mistaking it to be harmful invaders and defends against it. Common food allergies like those of milk, egg, soy and wheat are the ones children may most often outgrow by the time they reach their late teens. On the flipside, almost any food can become allergenic at any given time. Common food allergy symptoms may include digestive problems, hives or swollen airways, or in a severe case, anaphylaxis. Typical allergens are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

Despite its frequency and wide-spread reach, unfortunately allergies cannot be cured. But, allergy management is possible. It is important to note that allergy medications do not cure the allergy itself, they only ease the allergy symptoms. Sure, it may take some hard work and commitment, but with proper care and precaution, one can control the allergy symptoms and lead a normal and healthy life.

Most common allergy symptoms include the usual coughing, sneezing, irritated eyes, rashes and stuffy or runny nose. But there are some severe rare cases, when an allergic reaction can be fatal. This usually happens when an allergic reaction results in life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can stop your breathing and even drop your blood pressure fatally low. While most common mild allergy symptoms can be treated and managed, in case of an anaphylactic shock, one needs immediate medical attention as it can cost them their life.

Hay fever is not related to hay or having a fever because of hay. It is basically an allergic reaction to airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander or dust mites and irritants like cigarette smoke, perfume and diesel exhaust. Hay fever is mostly sensitive to airborne allergens and are not to be mistaken as cold. Allergies, on the other hand, can be triggered by all types of allergens, be it airborne, direct contact, or consumption of certain food. An allergy can be caused by any and all types of allergens, whereas, hay fever is only caused by airborne allergens.

It is very well known by now that allergies can occur at any point of time but hay fever or allergic rhinitis are most common during childhood. On the positive side, a child suffering from food allergy from a very early age can outgrow his/her allergy. A child can outgrow common food allergies such as milk, egg, soy and wheat during his/her late teens. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for adults. In fact, adulthood is more well known for its frequent sudden development of new allergies. Even if you've been living normally so far, a common harmless substance can suddenly become allergenic during adulthood. The allergy types and symptoms for both are more or less the same.

An allergy can cause a lot of misery for those suffering from it and tend to have an adverse effect on one’s life. It is true that allergy still cannot be cured, but there has been great progress in finding better ways for allergy management in both adults and children. There are various prescription safe & non-sedative antihistamines like Fexofenadine, Loratadine, etc, decongestants and allergy shots for allergy management. You can find in-depth details on managing an allergy in children(link to Children’s Allergies > Managing Children’s allergies) and adults(link to Allergies Decoded > Management) by clicking on their respective titles.