The sequelae of allergies are otherwise defined as the complications and risk factors associated with allergies, and several other health issues can develop in individuals who have allergies.
In what follows, we’ll be outlining and identifying some of the most common sequelae of allergies. We’ll discuss some of their chief characteristics, and we’ll explore the most common and effective treatments available for these conditions.
Complications and Risk Factors of Allergies
As individuals experience the condition of having allergies and develop the typical symptoms, they will often have the potential to develop secondary health issues. The reason for this is related to the genetic predisposition that these individuals have. If an individual has several allergies, they have a genetic makeup that predisposes them to have a higher risk of further health issues.
Below are the most common sequelae of allergies:
Identifiable from its congestive symptomatology, rhinitis is an allergic reaction causing nasal symptoms such as a runny nose. Caused primarily by inflammation, rhinitis ranges in severity, depending, of course, on the amount of exposure of the allergen and the severity of the allergy that the individual has to the particular allergen.
During the exposure, the lining of the nasal mucosa becomes noticeably irritated and swollen. The result is the continued worsening of symptoms, from a simple runny nose to mucus build-up and subsequent congestion.
Rhinitis often leads to additional sequelae, which can be as simple as mild cough to reactive airway disease depending on the individual. The symptoms of rhinitis are primarily treated through antihistamines.
Sinusitis, which can sometimes be mistaken as a simple cold, is categorized as one of the most common infections in the United States and has been known to affect approximately 30 million people annually. For individuals with immune system complications, pre-existing allergies, structural blockages, or asthma, the risk greatly increases for developing sinusitis.
The three main types of sinus infections are acute, subacute, and chronic. Each type of sinusitis is defined by its severity and duration of symptoms.
The most common treatment method for mild sinusitis includes a simple decongestant or nasal spray, while in more severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary.
Reactive Airway Disease
Reactive airway disease is a controversial, tough-to-define medical condition associated with obstructed airways, overreactive bronchial tubes, and irritable symptoms involving difficulty breathing, mucus build-up, and excessive coughing.
Often confused with asthma, reactive airway disease typically occurs during or after a respiratory infection, but it also can be induced by an allergic reaction. For example, exposure to pet dander may cause the typical wheezing and shortness of breath that occurs with reactive airway disease. While avoiding the identified triggers of reactive airway disease is the best preventative measure, other treatments and management options are available.
Long-term medication in conjunction with an bronchodilator inhaler is typically required for the treatment and management of symptoms.
According to the CDC, asthma is now categorized as a risk factor for severe complications associated with COVID-19 infection.
As a chronic inflammatory condition impacting the airways, asthma often results in episodic airflow obstruction attacks that causes significant breathing difficulty. An asthma attack can develop into an emergent condition if left untreated.
Several treatment, management, and preventative measures are available to mitigate or provide relief from symptoms altogether, including inhalers and corticosteroid medication.
Defined as swelling underneath the skin, angioedema is a medical condition that can develop from exposure to an allergenic trigger. Though typically not severe initially, angioedema can worsen without treatment and cause life-threatening sequelae.
Swelling from angioedema can occur nearly anywhere on the body, however, is most commonly recognizable on the hands, feet, lips, area surrounding the eyes, and even the genitals.
Depending on the extensive nature of the swelling, treatment may include intravenous epinephrine, oxygen supplementation, and antihistamines.
Treating Sequelae of Allergies
Treating allergies and sequelae of allergies, no matter the allergy or complication, tend to involve similar protocols, the most common being a prescription or over-the-counter medication. These treatments will work at various stages of the immune response such as by histamine blockade or counteracting the chemicals released during an advanced immune response cascade.
The treatment protocol required, however, depends greatly on the level of the immune response, the general health of the patient, and the symptomatology involved.
During a topical skin reaction, antihistamines and ointments; for congestive complications, nasal sprays, decongestants, and lifestyle interventions such as hydration.
If it’s an airway complication, oxygen supplementation, reduction of swelling via the use of epinephrine, and bronchodilation are some methods that are used to treat the condition. If an airway cannot be obtained by placing a breathing tube in the trachea, surgical placement of a cricothyrotomy tube may be necessary.
It’s important for those living with allergies and sequelae of allergies, no matter how mild or severe, to avoid allergic triggers and environmental irritants as much as possible.
Treating and managing severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis can prove difficult, not merely due to the lack of time available between the time of exposure to the development of life-threatening symptoms but due to the lack of immediately available resources during the time of need.
For those who live with severe allergies, it’s critical that they have access to an emergency dose of epinephrine, typically in the form of an EpiPen, also known as an EAI or epinephrine auto-injector.
Failure to be prepared can ultimately result in severe long-term health complications, life-threatening reactions, and death.
In what follows, we’ll be discussing the treatment and management techniques available to deploy during emergency situations surrounding severe allergic reactions in which the conditions of anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock occur.
Management of Anaphylaxis
A potentially fatal condition, anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that typically occurs almost immediately after harmful exposure to an allergen.
It’s not uncommon for anaphylaxis to be thought of as less serious and thus under-treated. This holds especially true in casual, non-medical settings where those surrounding the individual are not aware of the risks of the severe allergic reaction and do not know how to react to such a circumstance.
To avoid the subsequent complications that can arise during a state of anaphylactic shock and to prevent the situation from worsening into an uncontrollable condition, it’s important to understand some concepts about anaphylaxis management.
The following are four aspects of management typically used in a controlled emergency medical environment on individuals experiencing an anaphylactic episode.
During times of anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock, patients are likely to experience shortness of breath or total loss of breath as a result of impaired airways. Among the initial steps of management during such an emergency situation, an individual’s airway must be assessed and managed. This will be the only effective way to deliver oxygen to the lungs to be able to sustain life.
Supplemental oxygen delivered by the immediate placement of a breathing tube into the trachea will allow the initial medical provider to buy some time before more comprehensive help arrives. The rapid assessment of the airway and quick placement of an airway tube allows for continuous oxygen flow to the lungs before the airway becomes obstructed.
It is imperative that intravenous fluids be administered to treat those experiencing an anaphylactic episode. In the state of anaphylaxis, the normal intravascular volume is depleted due to leakage of fluid and decreased pressure in the blood vessels. This depleted volume in the blood vessels must be replaced to be able to deliver blood efficiently to all areas of the body.
This process is otherwise known as fluid resuscitation. The fluid used is typically saline solution.
Emergent Surgical Airway
During the initial assessment, it may be identified that the patient’s airways are evidently compromised and the placement of an airway tube will not be possible. In such a circumstance, a surgical placement of a cricothyroidotomy, is likely required.
A cricothyroidotomy is a surgical procedure that involves an incision in the front of the neck and the placement of a short curved tube through the incision into the trachea. Thus, life-saving oxygen therapy can be delivered into the lungs by an alternative route.
Emergency Use of Epinephrine
During the earliest available opportunity, the anaphylactic patient should be given an emergency dose of epinephrine, either intramuscularly (IM) or intravenously (IV). The first dose will often be given intramuscularly, and subsequent intravenous administration can be given as needed.
Treatment of Severe Reactions with Epinephrine
Not only is epinephrine used in the initial emergency management protocol, but it is also very effective in the management of other pathophysiological complications that occur in an anaphylactic episode.
For example, individuals are likely to experience airway obstruction. Epinephrine is effective in helping to reverse such airflow obstruction while also potentially reversing cardiovascular collapse.
The following are the most common therapeutic actions of using epinephrine as a means of treatment for anaphylaxis.
- Increases pressure inside blood vessels
- Decreases swelling inside the airways
- Increases stronger heart contraction and heart rate
- Increases bronchodilation
- Decreases release of mediators of inflammation from mast cells
While the potential for adverse effects of using epinephrine as a source of treatment and management exists, the benefits far outweigh the risks, and it has proven to be life-saving.
Living with a life-threatening allergy can be undesirable and sometimes scary, especially if a severe reaction occurs. To combat this sometimes uncontrollable possibility, it’s important to be proactive with preparation.
Travel with an EpiPen at all times and, above all else, understand the concepts of an allergic reaction management plan, both independently and with extended peers. It’s also important to have discussions with an allergy specialist to understand the risks of anaphylaxis.
Allergic reactions are a common occurrence in humans, prevalent in all ages, sexes, and demographics. While allergies can develop in anyone at any time, children seem to be the most susceptible, especially if their parent(s) have allergies.
Although there are many reasons why allergies develop, much is still not known about their etiology. The most common allergies and allergenic causes include environmental factors, food sensitivities, and genetic predispositions.
Identifying and making the diagnosis of various allergies can sometimes be a difficult task due to all of the various types and the different severities of the illness.
When individuals present with specific symptoms that are related to allergies, they often have no idea as to the cause. It is then the job of the health care provider to ask the correct questions and obtain a comprehensive history to start the process of making the diagnosis.
The type of thorough training that an allergy specialist has will make them the best diagnosticians, yet other healthcare workers can become adept at this process with experience.
In what follows, we’ll be sharing the many types of allergies and exploring how allergies and their corresponding symptoms are both identified and diagnosed. We’ll also detail the outlook for those living with allergies.
Types of Allergies
There are several types of allergies, each comprising mostly similar symptoms, although some differences can be seen. Whether seasonal allergies, hay fever, food allergies, or insect bites, allergic symptoms are often mild in nature and include itchiness, skin rashes, and mild congestion.
Moderate allergic symptoms may include swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases, however, some allergies can be severe and even life-threatening, resulting in anaphylaxis, shock, and even cardiac arrest.
No matter the type or severity of the allergy, patients experiencing an allergic reaction typically experience symptoms within the first few minutes of exposure.
It is important to note that not all individuals who claim to have allergies actually have the immunological response that corresponds with the accurate diagnosis of an allergic reaction. These individuals will need additional evaluation and management beyond allergy diagnosis.
Identifying and Diagnosing Allergies
When diagnosing the possibility of an allergy, healthcare practitioners typically evaluate three primary factors. Those three factors include the immune system response, the symptoms that appear as a result of allergen contact, and the allergens that may cause such reactions.
If an individual shows noticeable symptoms upon consuming a particular food, for example, it’s a likely presumption that a food allergy is present. Should the individual lack additional or more specific symptoms upon eating a particular food, however, a mere sensitivity to the food might be the case.
During an allergy evaluation, several tests are done that will seek to examine the body’s white blood cells and their corresponding immune response. Additional testing for antibodies to see whether the patient has enough strength to defend against foreign invaders will likely follow.
Upon the completion of tests, the practitioner will reach a conclusion as to whether or not a suspected allergy is present. Should the conclusion reached determine that an allergy is present, they’ll proceed with some additional testing. If the allergen suspected is an allergen that causes skin reactions, then allergy skin tests are utilized for confirmation of the allergy.
Other diagnostic tests include oral tests for substances and foods. These tests are very helpful in assessing a wide variety of different allergens and will help make the diagnosis more accurate.
Summary of Allergy Tests
To summarize the journey to diagnosing an allergy or allergies, the following is an organized detail of the many types of allergy tests utilized.
White Blood Cell Test: Determines the immune system response or lack thereof of the patient to conclude whether or not they have the strength to defend against invaders.
Antibody Test: Measures the defenders in the immune system involved with guarding against infection and foreign invaders. It also confirms previous exposure to allergic substances and determines the overall strength of the immune system.
Skin Test: Exposes the skin of the patient to the presumed allergenic substance to measure the reaction or lack thereof. Distinguishes between allergic reaction or mere sensitivity, as well as the severity of the reaction.
Oral Test: Requires the patient to ingest the food that’s presumed to be the cause of the reaction to determine the response.
No matter the diagnosis of the particular allergy, the outlook for individuals with allergies is typically positive. With several treatment and management options and several more preventative techniques, it’s very rare for an allergy to develop into one that is severe or life-threatening.
Although the methods for diagnosing allergies are helpful in determining the causes of allergies, they are not foolproof, and they don’t always pinpoint the exact allergen. Yet, these methods are excellent tools and help to achieve the best clinical judgment by a health practitioner.
Allergy specialists are certainly the most qualified individuals to evaluate and treat allergies and should be considered the standard, especially in cases of difficult allergies.
While the only full-proof way of preventing public allergic reactions is to stay home and never leave, this, of course, isn’t a realistic recommendation. Creating a comprehensive allergy management plan, then, is the next best option to effectively prevent or manage allergic reactions in public places.
In what follows, we’ll be sharing the most effective tips and tactics for preparing for public places and the possible allergens that may accompany them. While allergens are not always avoidable, they are often preventable, or at the very least manageable, if the proper procedures are put in place and utilized.
Preparing for Public Places and Allergens
There has been progress made in lawmaking surrounding the public protection of those with severe allergies, specifically with regard to the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.
This law, in particular, is active in most states and allows those schools involved to stock epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) in case of emergency situations. Many states are actually even considering an expansion of this law to allow for greater access to epinephrine outside of the confines of school campuses.
Many schools are also equipped with asthma and allergy programs designed to help manage allergic symptoms. Additional protocols can also be explored to ensure the safest possible environment in a prominent public place, such as schools. This progress will certainly depend upon decisions made at a governmental level.
To improve upon the overall situation, it’s important that individuals with allergies proceed to take every necessary precaution proactively so as to prevent allergic reactions from occurring. The following are tips for those with allergies when preparing for public places.
Become Educated on Possible Allergens
Potential allergens are abundant in public environments, often hiding from those living with such allergies. Preventative behavior for managing allergies includes becoming educated about all possible allergens that could or will be in the environment planning to be visited.
Prevention of allergic reactions in public places doesn’t only include education surrounding the environment and its accompanying allergens. It also includes being prepared by having the proper medications quickly available in case of an emergency or unforeseen circumstance.
These medications include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, or emergency epinephrine shots, and understanding how these medications help treat the allergy is very helpful. Traveling prepared with the right medications is essential to the prevention and management of allergic reactions, whether mild or severe.
Always Travel With an EpiPen
As a parent responsible for managing a child’s allergies or as an adult living with allergies, it’s imperative to ensure that an EpiPen is available to the individual at all times to ensure their safety.
If it’s a child that has allergies, it’s important to ensure that they know how to use the EpiPen properly in case of an anaphylactic emergency. Depending on their age, their ability to perform the proper technique may be problematic. In this case, it’s important to consult with the school staff or school nurse to ensure a comprehensive and reliable allergy response plan is put in place.
The EpiPen is one of the most important medications for the emergent situation, but other medications should also be readily available for children, and this can be something that is arranged as part of the response plan.
Ensure School Staff is Well Trained in EAIs
Most states have laws that allow schools and campuses to sufficiently stock appropriate amounts of epinephrine auto-injectors (EAI) in case of an on-campus emergency. Yet, only stocking epinephrine, however, isn’t enough.
Instead, it’s important that the school in question has a staff that has received comprehensive EAI training, is educated, willing, and is able to perform the proper procedure when necessary.
Meeting with the school nurse can be especially helpful in identifying the special allergy needs of your children.
Inform Others of Food Allergies When Dining Out
We’ve discussed primarily about generalized public places and school campuses; however, we’ve yet to consider other vulnerable public destinations such as restaurants and other dine-in service businesses.
While most restaurants and diners are equipped to accommodate allergies, they may not ask their patrons about allergies. It’s up to those living with allergies to proactively inform the necessary restaurant staff of any allergies so that the accommodation can be made accordingly.
Failure to do so, even if it’s due to sheer forgetfulness, can produce a complicated scenario that could have been prevented. Many public places are becoming very sensitive to the risk of allergies in their customers, which helps improve the environment’s safety tremendously.
At the very least, be sure to travel with an EpiPen should it be necessary to do so, whether traveling to school campuses, restaurants, or otherwise.
Being allergy-aware is essential to the prevention and management of allergic reactions in public places and other vulnerable settings. Not being proactive about allergies and making those around you allergy-aware can result in potentially severe and even life-threatening consequences.
Being proactive with preparation, communicating clearly and with the right people, and ensuring that the necessary medication is always on-hand wherever you go are essential to the prevention of allergic reactions in public places.
Allergies are a condition that can complicate something as simple as living at home. The problem lies in that it can be difficult to avoid things that can cause simple allergy symptoms to life-threatening emergencies. Since it’s not possible for everyone who has allergies to live right next to a hospital, the best option is to optimize the home environment.
It may not be possible to eliminate every possible allergen that causes mild allergies, but the identification of specific triggers of severe allergies that can exist in the home is imperative. Yet, even simple allergens can be prevented with a home that is in a generally clean and hygienic state.
In what follows, we’ll be sharing several helpful and effective tips concerning the management of allergies in an at-home environment. These tips can assist in full-proofing the home to ensure emergencies are avoided and optimal health and wellness are promoted.
Tips for Managing Allergies At Home
Living with an allergy or allergies, however mild, can prove to be a difficulty. Should the allergy or allergies be severe, the result could be more than a mere hindrance and can lead to significant issues. Thus, maintaining a healthy home living environment will be the way to prevent these problems.
While many of the environments outside the home that are traveled through on a day-to-day basis can’t be controlled, the home environment can be, so it should. The following are some methods of control:
Maintain a Clean Environment
One of the most common types of allergies are those caused by dust, mold, and other bacterial pollutants frequently found in an unclean home. For those that have such allergies, eliminating these allergens is of the utmost importance.
By prioritizing a daily tidy and a weekly clean of the floors, furniture, windows, and other areas known to gather dust, allergic reactions can be avoided, and optimal health can be obtained.
Ensure Sufficient Air Filtration
Depending on the season in question, some home methods can be used. For example, during springtime, keeping windows closed will help decrease the amount of pollen invading the home. And for this reason, cooling elements such as fans or central air conditioning would be a better option than opening windows.
In other scenarios, air filtration can be an appropriate option. To ensure sufficient air filtration, however, consider using a HEPA device that comes equipped with a filter that blocks pollen from entering the air vents. Like any filter, HEPA filters require frequent cleaning to remove any dust that builds up on both the inside and outside of the mechanism.
Air filters located in the HVAC of the house should also be replaced on a regular basis. It’s helpful to set up this type of seasonal replacement with your HVAC company or purchase these devices and replace them yourself.
Vapor from humidifier in the morning light in a living room
Maintain a Healthy Level of Humidity
While humidity is often thought of as a condition that’s to be avoided, a healthy level of humidity can promote the prevention of mold growth and dust build-up. Optimal humidity levels are said to be under 50% (typically 30-40%) in the home. This, of course, depends on the temperature outside of the home.
There are methods that can be used to increase humidity manually in the home during the colder months if the home does not have a central humidifier. Also, simple humidifier machines can be placed throughout the house, yet these devices will require regular maintenance and adequate water to work efficiently.
Perform Routine Home Audits
While daily and weekly clean-ups are sufficient to maintain minimal dust throughout the home, scheduling a more thorough clean on a monthly or even quarterly basis is key to maintaining an optimally clean home environment.
Checking the floors and walls for possible mold and revisiting previously cleaned areas to ensure that nothing was missed is a great home audit strategy for maintaining an allergen-free home.
It may also be worth considering hiring a company to clean the central HVAC system to decrease the overall allergen load.
Remain up-to-date with Medications
In addition to maintaining the home environment, it’s also important to ensure that the medications responsible for managing allergy symptoms are both easily accessible and up-to-date.
These medications include antihistamines, asthma inhalers, and EpiPens to be the best prepared for these situations in the home.
Avoid Allowing Food Triggers into the Home
Finally, avoid bringing food-related triggers into the home. Even if they are mild allergies, it’s best not to allow those symptoms to occur at all.
One last point about food is to make sure to clean up properly after eating meals or snacks since crumbs and debris left over from food can induce insect infestation. An allergy to insects is often present in individuals, and this can create undesirable symptoms.
Managing allergies and preventing triggers from being present can be controlled in the home. While it involves a level of effort, upkeep, and consistency, the result can be profound in protecting the individual with allergies.
It’s worth considering the investment in time or money to achieve an allergy-safe environment in the home.
Young girl with allergy in autumn park
Allergies are a common health complication experienced across populations, affecting nearly 50 million people in the United States on an annual basis alone. Ranging in symptomatology and severity, allergies can be an otherwise mild impediment or severe concern for an individual’s health and well-being.
Because it’s the job of the immune system to protect the body from anything foreign that is identified as an intruder, allergic reactions are often the result. The process is designed to both set a biological alarm and defend the body against what is seen as an attack. These reactions can range from general inflammation to a higher level of other symptoms.
In what follows, we’ll be exploring the different potential symptoms associated with allergies, ranging from a mild fever and runny nose to sinusitis, asthma, and reactive airway disease. Further, we’ll also explore why such symptoms and reactions occur and what can be expected in a medical scenario should these symptoms become a serious concern.
Categorized as an immune system reaction to a foreign substance, allergies tend to be associated with external nonhuman substances such as pollen or animal fur. The many types of allergies include food allergies, pet allergies, plant allergies, dust allergies, mold allergies, and even insect allergies.
In many cases, these allergens aren’t harmful or toxic to a healthy human being. Such examples would be seemingly healthy foods like nuts and butter. Because associative antibodies identify these substances as harmful intruders in individuals who have such an allergy, allergic reactions are the end result.
Again, depending on the individual and type of allergy, symptoms, and severity can range greatly. Most allergenic symptoms, however, include symptoms such as general itchiness, hives, rashes, congestion, and minor swelling of the lymph nodes.
While much of what’s known about allergies and their predictability is related to genetics, there has been no conclusive understanding as to the exact reason why allergies develop in particular individuals.
Common Types of Symptoms
As a bodily reaction to a substance that has been identified as harmful, allergic symptoms are the body’s way of signaling danger.
While allergic reactions comprise several subtypes of symptoms, the following are some of the most common and their etiology.
Otherwise known as hives or chronic hives, urticaria is a very common allergic reaction seen at the level of the skin. Unlike other allergic symptoms such as hay fever, the cause of urticaria is idiopathic, meaning the cause is not yet known or understood.
Hives are identified as the development of red welts at the skin surface. They are caused by the substance histamine, which is triggered by the immune system response to the allergen. Histamine causes dilated small blood vessels and capillary leaking, which will produce the red discoloration and swelling that ensues. Hives also produce significant itchy sensation.
To experience relief from uncomfortable and irritable symptoms of urticaria, antihistamines are the usual treatment. Should symptoms persist and worsen, additional medication may be required.
If a patient has developed a pollen allergy, they will be susceptible to uncomfortable symptoms with the change of seasons due to trees and grass, and this has been called hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever include moderate swelling along the lining of the nasal mucosa, and this process is also mediated by histamine.
Other potential symptoms include sneezing and coughing, itchy eyes with redness, earache, extreme fatigue, and even a loss of smell during the time of the reaction.
If the individual also suffers from secondary complications such as asthma, other symptoms are likely to result, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a dry cough that can last quite a while.
Otherwise referred to as nasal congestion or runny nose, rhinitis is often categorized as an allergic reaction that is again mediated by histamine. Whether due to an external pollutant or viral illness, inflammation occurs, and the symptoms can range in severity from mild to severe.
In some cases, the sinuses can become involved, and inflammation develops in the lining of the sinuses. Mucus then builds up within the sinuses, and this can also lead to possible infection, which can require the treatment of antibiotics.
As mentioned previously, individuals who have asthma as a secondary condition can have exacerbation of their asthma symptoms, and they may require additional treatment on top of their already prescribed therapy.
While not all allergies and associative symptoms are particularly threatening, many can be quite challenging to manage or, at the very least, can become a hindrance to one’s quality of life.
Even if the particular symptoms don’t present a serious threat, those who suffer from secondary and tertiary health conditions, such as asthma, are at greater risk of severe complications, such as anaphylaxis.
Allergies that are managed in a timely fashion by medications prescribed or by lifestyle changes lead to much-improved comfort in the lives of individuals who are affected by this condition.