Recently a new acquaintance asked me, “what’s the big deal about allergies; does a stuffy nose require medical treatment?” This comment reminded me that allergies generate very little empathy by those who are free of allergic disease. The following facts should help clear up the misunderstanding regarding people who have allergies.
- One out of every six Americans suffers from an allergic condition.
- The development of allergies has a strong genetic component influenced by the environment and infections. Having hay fever increases a person’s risk of developing asthma.
- Allergy is an important contributing cause for asthma; research tells us that up to 70% of asthmatics are skin test positive for allergies.
- Patients use a variety of names to describe their allergies; occurring in the nose or sinuses are called hay fever, allergic rhinitis or sinus problems. When allergy reactions occur in the chest patients describe this as bronchitis, cough, recurrent croup, wheeze or asthma. Allergic reactions involving the skin are often called hives, rashes, dermatitis or eczema.
- Recurrent ear infections are often triggered by inflamed (swollen) mucous membranes of the nasal passages due to inhaled allergens.
- Allergies and asthma are responsible for over 130 million school days to be missed each year in the United States. Research demonstrates that uncontrolled allergies contribute to lower test scores due to decreased cognitive function.
If you don’t suffer from allergies imagine how you feel when you have a cold and prolong that feeling throughout the allergy season. Asthma can cause your breathing to feel very restricted as if you are breathing through a straw.
The good news; allergy injections which provide allergy desensitization, appropriate medications and environmental control can help to manage your allergy and asthma symptoms.
Asthma and allergies are nothing to “sneeze at” and must be better understood by all.