Allergies are all about your immune system. The job of your immune system is to protect you from germs such as bacteria and viruses. But if you have an allergy, your immune system will also defend your body against a harmless substance -- such as cat dander or dust mites -- that you encounter.
When you come across an allergy trigger, your body makes molecules called IgE antibodies. These trigger a series of reactions that can cause swelling, runny nose, and sneezing.
By Jan. 1, 2009, millions of Americans with asthma and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will have to make the switch from CFC-propelled inhalers to HFA-propelled inhalers, if they haven't already.
The change comes as a result of a federal ban on CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) albuterol inhalers that goes into effect Dec. 31, 2008.
For some asthma patients, like 35-year-old Shelby Rothrock of Silver Spring, Md., the new inhalers are a big improvement. She says she prefers the feel of...
People may also have allergic reactions if they touch or eat allergens. This type of exposure rarely causes asthma symptoms, but it can cause a serious and even life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylactic shock, which makes it hard to breathe.
Your doctor might recommend allergy tests to figure out what allergens affect you. These tests usually involve pricking your skin with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen or injecting it under your skin. Your doctor then checks your skin for a reaction.
If a skin test isn't possible, you might get a blood test instead.
Avoid Your Allergic Asthma Triggers
When pollen counts are high, stay inside as much as possible. Keep the windows closed. If you have an air conditioner, use it to filter the air.
To keep dust mites out, wrap your pillows, mattress, and box springs in allergen-proof covers. Wash your sheets once a week in hot water.