More than 50 million Americans deal with some form of allergic response every year. Some allergies, like those to pollen and pet dander, are mostly just annoying. However, some allergies can send you into anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening situation where you become unable to breathe.
At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat, Dr. James Osborne, Dr. Bryan Smedley, and their team treat all manner of allergies at their office in Surprise, Arizona. While some allergies occur year-round, some are specific to the season of year. As we’re coming up on the fall and winter, they want you to be aware of common allergies that occur in Arizona at this time, as well as learn what you can do to treat them.
An allergy is your body’s reaction to a foreign substance, called an allergen, which should be innocuous. Normally, your immune system revs up when it comes in contact with a dangerous pathogen such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus. Its function is to overwhelm that pathogen and restore your body to its normal, healthy state.
An allergy, though, is where the immune system jumps the track, attacking a foreign substance that isn’t actually harmful, and mounting a full-blown attack that can make you sneeze, cough, run a fever, or swell up in an effort to rid yourself of the substance despite its benign nature. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, mites, medications, and foods like shellfish and peanuts.
Arizona is warm and sunny, with a year-round growing season, which makes it an attractive place to live. However, it also means some plants are always producing pollen, a common allergen. There’s also a great deal of dust endemic to an arid area. Together, these allergens can wreak havoc on your body.
During Arizona's fall and winter seasons, the most common outdoor allergens are pollen from Cypress and Juniper trees, Winter Rye grass, and weeds, while the most common indoor allergens are dust and dust mites. As many people spend a good deal of time inside during the winter months, if you’re allergic to dust and/or dust mites, it’s a good idea to visit your ENT for help to alleviate the worst of the symptoms.
Allergic responses vary from one individual to the next, as well as according to the specific allergen involved. A mild allergic reaction may include:
These are the most likely reactions to the pollen and dust found in Arizona’s winter climate.
More severe allergic reactions include:
These reactions are more often seen with insect bites and food allergies.
Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reaction that develops just seconds after allergen exposure and results in life-threatening symptoms that include:
If you experience an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Without immediate treatment, the reaction can be fatal.
Once we’ve determined what you’re allergic to, your doctor may recommend one or more treatments to help manage the symptoms.
There are two types of medications, short-acting abortives, and long-acting preventives. The abortives help you manage a reaction as it occurs, while you take the preventives regularly to help forestall a reaction in the first place. We recommend oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, and a variety of other types of symptom relievers.
If avoiding the substances that cause an allergic reaction doesn’t help the situation, and if medication proves ineffective, we may recommend immunotherapy as a treatment option. You take regular but very small amounts of the allergen to help build your tolerance to it over time.
If you live in Arizona and are plagued by winter allergies, it’s time to come into Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat for an evaluation and treatment. Give the office a call at 623-234-4640, or book your appointment online today.