Allergies: If you have them, you know what happens when they’re triggered. But do you know what sets them off?
Your immune system protects you from bacteria and viruses. Sometimes it mounts an inappropriate response to a harmless substance. When that happens, your body creates chemicals, like histamine, that trigger an allergic reaction. It's unclear what causes your immune system to make the mistake about certain things.
Living with allergies at home is hard enough. But traveling with allergies raises a whole new set of challenges in getting relief for allergies. Whether you travel every week for business or just once a year to visit the grandparents, it’s important to head out prepared. Traveling with allergies doesn’t have to be torture!
Common allergens include dust mites, pet dander, pollen, peanuts, and seafood. Medications, latex, metals such as nickel, chemicals in household cleaning products, and perfumes and dyes found in beauty products can also set off a reaction in some people.
Who Will React?
Allergies affect about 1 in 5 people. Experts don't know why some people react to certain things and others don’t. But having a family history of allergies makes it more likely you’ll get them.
You can develop an allergy at any age. Something that’s never bothered you before may suddenly cause a reaction.
Signs of Trouble
The way your body reacts to an allergen can vary. It could be mild or severe, and might affect different parts of the body.
Common triggers of this severe allergic reaction are insect stings and foods like nuts. A medication such as epinephrine is usually needed to halt this dangerous response. If you have severe allergies, you should carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case you’re exposed.
What to Do
If you think you may have allergies, see a board certified allergist. There are blood tests that can tell you what you’re allergic to. Knowing that can help you minimize your exposure to the allergen.
Depending on the type of allergy, your doctor will recommend treatment that may include an oral antihistamine, regular allergy shots, or carrying an epinephrine auto-injector with you.