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immune-system

What Causes Allergies? And Other Answers to Common Allergy Questions

Posted on Tue, Apr 12, 2016

Recent studies show that the number of people suffering with seasonal allergies has been skyrocketing and is expected to continue increasing into the foreseeable future. In the United States alone, 65 million people suffer with seasonal allergies on a regular basis. What causes allergies and how does your body respond to them?

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are abnormal reactions to ordinarily harmless substance. The sensitizing substances, called allergens, may be inhaled, swallowed, or come into contact with the skin. Despite the fact that allergies are so common, the actual cause of them is still rather “mysterious” and vague for many sufferers.

What Causes Allergies?What Causes Allergies?

The most common allergens include pollen, mold spores, house dust mites, animal dander, foods, insect bites or stings, plants, insect spores, latex rubber, viruses, bacteria, medications and environmental conditions such as cold, heat or humidity. While it’s easy to blame your sister’s cat, most allergens are actually harmless. What really causes the allergic reactions is our own immune system that mistakes these allergens for a serious threat and starts attacking them.

How Does the Body Respond to Allergens?

Allergic reactions occurs after the immune system mistakenly learns to recognize innocent foreign substances or allergens as potentially harmful. Most people who suffer from allergies have to deal with these aggravating conditions that can interrupt their lifestyle. Common symptoms of a typical allergic reaction include breathing congestion, inflammation, scratchy or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itching, puffy face, flushing of the cheeks, vomiting, stomachache and intestinal irritation. But what is happening inside your body when you’re exposed to allergens? The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) explains:

“Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.

Each type of IgE has specific "radar" for each type of allergen. That's why some people are only allergic to cat dander (they only have the IgE antibodies specific to cat dander), while others have allergic reactions to multiple allergens because they have many more types of IgE antibodies.

It's not yet fully understood why some substances trigger allergies and others do not, or why some people have allergic reactions while others do not. A family history of allergies is the single most important factor that puts you at risk of developing allergic disease.”

What’s Triggering Your Allergic Response?

Different allergens will produce different reactions in those who suffer from allergies. If you think that you may have allergies, it is wise to pay close attention to how your body reacts to these different allergens, and take notes on the severity of the symptoms to share with a medical care professional. This will give you a good indication of what environmental irritants may be triggering your allergic responses and to what degree.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Medical Clinic

If symptoms interfere with normal day-to-day activities or if there is a sudden onset of symptoms, you should see a doctor. This is especially important if a child under your care is experiencing severe or sudden symptoms. eMedical Urgent Care physicians provide urgent medical care and allergy treatment to both adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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Prevention, Signs and Symptoms of Acute Upper Respiratory Infections

Posted on Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Prevention, Signs and Symptoms of the Common Cold | Weekend Doctor's Office, eMedicalViral upper respiratory infections (URI), also known as the common cold, can hit us in different degrees of severity and cause uncomfortable symptoms in the ears, sinuses, throat and nose. It's one of the most common illnesses, leading to more doctor visits and school/work absences than any other illness. When a cold hits, you can’t afford to wait until Monday morning to be seen by a doctor. That’s why at eMedical Urgent Care we offer convenient hours; our weekend doctor’s office will see you when you need it most.

What is Acute Upper Respiratory Infection?

Acute Upper Respiratory Infections are common in adults and in children alike and can happen any time of the year. It’s estimated that during a one-year period, people in the U.S. will suffer 1 billion colds. That’s a lot of sniffles! This contagious virus of your upper respiratory tract (including the nose, throat, pharynx, larynx, and bronchi) causes inflammation and swelling of the mucus membrane lining of the nose and throat. It can be the result of more than 200 different viruses; however, the rhinovirus causes the majority of all colds.

Who is at Risk for an Acute URI?

  • Those with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk to catch a cold.
  • Most children will develop at least six to eight colds a year.
  • People who are in hospitals, institutions, schools and daycare centers have increased risk because of close contact.
  • Colds may occur less frequently after the age of 6.
  • Adults get colds about 2 to 4 times a year.

When is the “Cold” Season?

Seasons with low humidity tend to increase the risk of catching an acute upper respiratory infection. Fall and winter (September to March) is the typical cold and flu season. People are more likely to be inside (in close quarters) with the low humidity indoor heating that favors survival of many viruses. Dry nasal passages can also increase vulnerability to infections.

What Causes URI?

The common cold is a contagious illness that can be caused by a number of different viruses. You can catch it from another person who is infected with the virus. This happens if you physically touch that person or if you touch a surface (phone, doorknob, or table) that the infected individual touched and then touch your nose or mouth. You can also catch it if you’re near someone who sneezes into the air. When the virus enters your body, it attaches to the lining of your nose or throat and causes a reaction. The body’s immune system (the body’s defense system) responds to this foreign virus by:
  • Increasing mucus production (runny nose)
  • Swelling of the lining of the nose (congestion and difficulty breathing)
  • Causing irritation in the nose (sneezing)
  • Increasing mucus drainage down the throat (coughing)

URI Prevention

Prevention is key. URIs spread from one person to another through aerosol droplets and direct hand-to-hand contact. Amazingly, about 80% of contagious diseases are transmitted by touch. Your best protection from the common cold and flu is frequent hand washing. Vaccination may also help prevent URIs, mostly against Influenza viruses, Adenoviruses, Measles, Rubella, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Diphtheria, Bacillus anthracis, and Bordetella pertussis.

Signs and Symptoms or URI

Symptoms of a cold can start from 1 to 3 days after contact. Usually the symptoms last one to two weeks. Symptoms may include:
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Congestion
  • Low grade fever
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
Since the symptoms of the common cold may resemble other conditions or medical problems, it’s important to consult with a physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for URI

It's important to remember that the common cold does not have a cure. Antibiotics may not necessarily treat the infection, but medications can help to relieve the symptoms. Some people benefit from cough suppressants, expectorants, vitamin C, zinc, nasal decongestants, steam inhalation, salt water gargling and acetaminophen to help reduce fever, aches and pains. If the infection is bacterial, such as sinusitis or strep, medical intervention is required.

Do I need an Appointment at eMedical Urgent Care?

After work, or on weekends, we‘re here. Our convenient walk-in hours are designed to fit your schedule. If you or your child becomes ill, don’t wait. Our experienced providers can diagnose and treat your urgent conditions quickly and expertly. Come see us for common illnesses, ailments, injuries and work-related issues. No appointment needed. Learn more about eMedical Urgent Care by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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