A. Allergies occur when your immune system recognizes an allergen (such as cat dander) as a foreign body and acts as if that fb is an infection trying to harm the body. Thus the immune system responds by releasing markers that create havoc on the body. The inflammation created results in the symptoms of the allergy sufferer. The reason some develop allergies and some do not remains a mystery. However, we know that genetics play a role and that allergies to specific triggers develop with multiple exposures.
Q. Is there anything I can do to prevent allergies?
A. There isn't much you can do. However, delaying solid food intake until 4 months of age in infants has been shown to reduce the likelihood of allergies. Also, highly allergenic foods such as nuts(peanut butter), shellfish, eggs, and certain fruits with small berries should be avoided until 12 months of age for all children and until 24 months in those with strong family histories of food allergies and asthma. Breastfeeding has also been shown to decrease the incidence of allergies.
Q. What types of things could I be allergic to?
A. The list is large and there are likely many things still unknown that may contribute to allergies. Seasonal allergies are typically to things such as trees and grasses. Dust mites, cock roaches, household pets are examples of things that are not seasonal that can cause allergy symptoms. Then, of course, there are foods, medications, and stinging insects that some people are allergic to.
Q. Should I get tested for allergies?
A. There are many reasons that your physician might recommend allergy testing. However, for symptoms that are obviously consistent with allergies and are seasonal (usually spring and fall) testing is not usually helpful until allergy shots are considered as treatment. Testing is more likely to be recommended to determine allergies to foods or pets. Testing is done by skin testing by an allergist usually after age 3.This page was authored by Dr. Grant Newman