What is an Allergy?

An allergy is an abnormal reaction to a normal element. Hundreds of ordinary substances can trigger an allergic reaction. These are referred to as “allergens.” By taking a careful history, performing a complete allergy-directed physical examination and by skin testing, Houston Allergy and Asthma Clinic can help pinpoint what causes your allergy symptoms.

What About Asthma?

Asthma is not really a “disease” but a syndrome that may be caused by various triggers, including sinus infections, colds, exercise, aspirin, insects and allergens. Symptoms include a tight feeling in the chest or a cough, shortness of breath or wheezing. Allergy plays a significant role in asthma. Indeed it is probably allergies bothering the breathing tubes.

The human body is uniquely equipped to fight off invasions from germs. However, sometimes our bodies think a simple allergen is a germ, which sets off an aggressive (but unnecessary) defense. That’s when you start sneezing, wheezing or developing some other allergic reaction. Although anyone can develop an allergy, the tendency toward allergies and asthma is linked to heredity.

What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Allergies?

Most common allergies are caused by dust mites the microscopic organisms found in household dust; pollen or mold spores, which typically results in what is commonly called hay fever; and animal dander – cats more often than dogs.

Am I Likely to Have Food Allergies?

The good news is that only about two percent of the population is affected by true food allergies. The bad news is that if you’re one of them, it’s no fun. However, unlike pollen and dust, the foods you’re allergic to are more easily avoided once you know which foods give you trouble.

What Can I Do to Prevent an Allergic Reaction?

The best way to prevent allergies is to avoid whatever you are allergic to. Realistically, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re allergic to such common things as pollen and dust mites. Houston Allergy and Asthma Clinic can help devise an avoidance strategy to minimize your exposure to allergens. Certain medications, along with allergy shots, also help prevent allergic reactions.

How Can I Make My Home Less Friendly to Allergens?

It depends on what you’re allergic to. Here are just a few suggestions to reduce most common allergens:

Living Room: If possible, replace carpeting with wood or vinyl floors – or vacuum twice a week with high filtration bags. Keep all plants outside to reduce mold exposure. Avoid tobacco smoke. Wash pets frequently, better yet, keep them outside. Replace think draperies with light, washable ones, or blinds.

Bedroom: Don’t allow pets in your bedrooms. Use allergen-proof encasements for mattresses and pillows. Wash linens and throw rugs in hot water. Keep clothes an shoes in a closed closet.

Outside: Keep the outside out of your house by keeping your windows closed. Also, do not let pets come in and out because they are likely to pick up pollen on their fur and bring it indoors.

What About Special Filters?

Though occasionally helpful, electrostatic HEPA filters are not effective for many causes of allergies. Make sure what you’re allergic to can actually be filtered by the unit.