Allergies - types, symptoms and causes

Do you get a lot of swelling after a bee sting, start experiencing giant hives when you take certain medicines or get congested around the same time every year when the seasons change? If you said yes to any of those, you may be among the 50 million Americans who experience some form of allergies each year. It’s one of the most common (and most overlooked) diseases.1

An allergy is your body’s way of reacting to a substance it’s not familiar with or something your body doesn’t like. (Even though you might like the taste of peanut butter, your immune system might not.) And that’s just your body’s way of protecting you from something it doesn’t really like. If your immune system senses a threat (real or not), it tries to fight it off. There are lots of allergens out there, but not everyone reacts to them the same way. You might get a reaction from eating peanut butter, while your neighbor could eat it all day long. Allergies can show up in all sorts of ways. The most common signs are things like, runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing or swelling. And while most allergies are simply a short-term inconvenience, some can interfere with daily activities and even be life-threatening.

Who should I see if I'm concerned about allergies?

If you’re interested in allergy tests, have concerns about your allergies, or feel like you’re always getting sick, consider visiting an allergist. They specialize in asthma and allergic diseases. Sometimes, people get used to their allergy symptoms, assuming that’s just the way they feel. In fact, you may not even know you have an allergy until you get properly tested. Bring a list of your symptoms, possible triggers and questions for your allergist. Together, you’ll make a plan to help manage, prevent or treat your allergies.16