Allergies, Asthma, and Anaphylaxis: Which One Is an Emergency?
Finally … spring has sprung! Tulip poplars are blooming, ferns are unfurling, and a chorus of birds is suddenly back outside your window at sunrise. It’s a beautiful time of year, and you’d really be enjoying it if it weren’t for one thing: allergens.
Allergens are invaders that your immune system mistakes for bacteria. In the spring, those invaders are likely to be pollen grains. The yellow glaze on the roof of your car in the morning? It’s pine pollen, and it’s not just adorning your vehicle — it’s also in your lungs. Allergens can cause your body to produce chemicals called histamines as protection. Unfortunately, histamines cause unpleasant symptoms that can range from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous.
Your body has a few different responses to allergens. Depending on how strongly it tries to repel the invaders, you could end up with basic allergies, an asthma attack, or full-on anaphylaxis, a very dangerous reaction that can be deadly. FastMed can treat your allergy symptoms and your asthma and help you avoid feeling this way in the future. Severe asthma attacks or anaphylaxis, however, should send you straight to the hospital. How do you know if it’s severe? If your body calls out the troops in the spring, learn the symptoms of each condition and be sure you know what to do.
Coughing, sneezing, itchy skin, watery eyes, and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis — otherwise known as allergies — can leave your nose raw and your temper short. If spring’s really not your thing, you probably have seasonal allergies specific to certain types of pollen. Tree pollen is the most likely suspect, followed by flower pollen from flowers like chrysanthemums and goldenrods.
One little-known fact about pollen allergies: the sex of the plant matters! Pollen carries male reproductive material, so only males or plants that exhibit both sexes produce it. Unfortunately, you can’t pick the sex of the trees in your neighborhood, but you might be able to beautify your house with some female blossoms that won’t make you feel miserable.
When you need relief from your allergy symptoms, come to FastMed. We probably won’t send you home with flowers, but we will make sure you feel better.
Allergic asthma is a condition that is also caused by allergens, but involves a specific bodily response: restriction of airflow. In the case of allergic asthma, histamines cause the muscles lining the walls of the bronchial tubes to become tighter and inflamed, a condition called bronchoconstriction. Eventually, your airways will become flooded with mucus. These symptoms make it increasingly difficult to breathe.
Some people who have asthma might not even know it; they may believe they simply have severe allergies. If you’re wondering about asthma, look for allergies that:
- Make you wheeze or cough a lot
- Seem unrelenting
- Make you consistently short of breath
- Get worse at night or wake you up from sleep
- Get worse in the presence of particular stimuli like flowers, animals, or mold
If you don’t know whether you have allergies or asthma, head on in to FastMed, and we’ll help you figure it out.
Sometimes an asthma attack can be so severe that it becomes life threatening. If you are experiencing restriction of breath that makes you gasp for air or pass out, you should go to the emergency room for help.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic response a person can experience. Unlike asthma, anaphylaxis isn’t limited to the lungs, although it often has a breathing component. If you’re concerned about the severity of an allergic response, look for swelling in the throat or face, which is the hallmark of anaphylaxis. These other symptoms are also a good indicator that something more serious than allergies is going on:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Dilated blood vessels
- Loss of consciousness
- Restricted breathing
If you suspect that your are experiencing anaphylaxis, go to the emergency room.
All of these conditions are caused by those pesky little allergens, and if you recognize early on that you’re having an allergic response, you may be able to avoid severe symptoms. FastMed can help guide you toward the best allergy treatment, so you can stop those allergens in their tracks.