Allergy is defined as an abnormal reaction by our body to some foreign substance. When our body’s immune system is exposed to an irritating foreign substance (allergen) usually after multiple prior exposures, it develops something called antibodies to fight away these unwanted allergens. When enough of these antibodies are produced, further exposures to these allergens will cause an allergic reaction. Such a reaction could cause something as simple as a runny nose or itchy eyes to a more life threatening event called anaphylaxis requiring significant medical intervention. An allergy is not curable, but it is most often treatable. Treatments consist of avoidance, over the counter antihistamines, allergy (de-sensitization) shots, prescription medications, or injectable epinephrine for severe reactions.
Asthma occurs when the reacting body system is the lungs. Symptoms usually are shortness of breath, cough, difficulty breathing or wheezing. The triggers for this kind of reaction could be: cold air, exercise, smoke, air pollen/ pollution, dirty environments, odors (such as perfumes), dust mites, pet dander, foods, and many other common everyday exposures. The first treatment is avoidance, if possible. Then over the counter antihistamines, inhalers, prescription medications, de-sensitization shots may be helpful. Prescription medications require a visit to a health care provider. The most severe adverse breathing reaction could result in respiratory failure, ventilator assistance in the hospital and ultimately death if not treated quickly and adequately. Breathing is a necessary requirement to support life so treat your lungs with care. Stop smoking and avoid smoky places!