Anyone who has ever had to suffer through allergies at any time of year knows just how much of a strain they can create on your life and more importantly, on your quality of life and ability to enjoy things so many people take for granted.
People can literally be allergic to virtually anything, so this article should not be considered as a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. What will be discussed herein, are the different types of allergies, as well as answering some basic questions regarding allergies and allergic reactions in Florida.
What Causes Allergies?
Most allergies and allergic reactions are a condition of the immune system wherein the body suffers adverse reactions to otherwise innocuous matter. Whatever substance may cause the allergic reaction is known, at least in that individual case, to be an allergen or allergy-causing agent.
Some allergic reactions are common across a large sector of the population, but remain classified as allergies as the substances are not considered to be “poison” in the medical sense. Common reactions to plants like Sumac, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak are classic examples of such allergies in Florida.
These plants all contain a substance called Urushiol which is the actual allergen or cause of the allergic reactions, though many people are actually immune to the effect of Urushiol when it comes into contact with the skin. These are examples where, while the majority of the population will suffer adverse reactions, not everybody will.
There are only three means by which an allergen can create an allergic reaction. The exact cause and reaction will vary depending on the allergen and the type of allergic reactions.
The first path for allergens in some cases will have to be inhaled into the respiratory system such as is the case with hay fever.
A second path for allergic reactions to plants like poison oak, sumac, and poison ivy, is physical contact with the dermal layer, though it need not be direct contact. There are cases where the allergens may be absorbed through contact with materials that have been exposed to the allergen and then come into contact with the outer layer of skin, like hanging your clothes in poison ivy while swimming.
In the third path to an allergic reaction, the allergen must be ingested or injected into the digestive system or blood stream, such as is the case with food allergies and insect bites.
Allergies tend to result from a combination of generally unique physical and genetic characteristics of the individual, usually directly related to the immune system, and due also in part to environmental conditions.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Allergic Reactions?
Allergic reactions range in severity based on the allergen and the reaction of the body to the allergen. Some allergic reactions such as allergies from peanuts and bee stings can be especially severe, leading to episodes of “anaphylaxis” or “anaphylactic shock” or even death.
Allergic reactions to medication, insect bites, and foods, generally result in the most severe allergic reactions, though this is not always the case. Allergens such as pollen generally result in an allergic reaction that is much less severe, and rarely deadly.
Less severe allergic reactions, generally due to allergens inhaled into the respiratory system, may be indicated through swelling, itching, rashes, sneezing, nasal dripping or runny nose, shortness of breath or similar systems.
What is “Anaphylaxis” or “Anaphylactic Shock“?
Among the most severe types of allergic reactions is anaphylaxis, commonly referred to as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock onsets very quickly and can lead to a person becoming comatose or even dying, often exhibiting the first signs of a reaction to the allergens within minutes, though sometimes taking a few hours to become readily apparent.
Additional symptoms of anaphylaxis may include swelling of the tongue, swelling in other parts of the body, frequently on or around the face, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and a rapidly lowering blood pressure. Emergency services should be called immediately if there is any indication the person having the allergic reaction is going into anaphylactic shock.
What Are the Most Common Allergens?
Pollen is perhaps the most common of all allergens, being present throughout most of the year in Florida. Everything from the orange blooms to hay fields to the dandelions growing in the yard create pollen, as pollination is requisite for the plant species to survive.
Additional allergens may include ingredients or certain proteins found in many food items, additives, and even metals and chemicals. It should be noted however, that there is also a condition known as Hyperosmia that causes symptoms very similar to allergic reactions from even the hint of chemical smells emanating forth from perfume, laundry soaps, and many other common household items.
What is Hyperosmia? Is it an Allergy or Allergic Reaction?
Hyperosmia is the result of a highly sensitive and powerful acuity of the olfactory sense, that results in the person being unable to tolerate many different odors coming from common items. Hyperosmia is not considered to be an allergy, but rather a “perceptual disorder” resulting in an increased signal strength somewhere between the olfactory receptors and the olfactory cortex.
The presence of hyperosmia may be due to genetic factors, but also may be the result of hormonal disorders or environmental causes. More recently, hyperosmia has also been associated with withdrawal symptoms, more exactly, during the withdrawal syndrome as patients are taken off of benzodiazepine.
Are Allergies Considered to be a Disease?
Allergies are not diseases in the traditional sense of an illness that can be cured, but are classified as “Allergic diseases”. Some allergies may be cured while others will exist throughout the natural life of the person suffering from allergies. While there is some evidence that certain allergies may be completely cured, egg allergies in this particular case, most allergies will remain throughout an entire lifetime.
What are the Different Allergy Seasons in Florida?
Florida, like many tropical and subtropical environments, generally only has two definitive seasons, these being the rainy season and the dry season effectively. This is opposed to the more common Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall or Autumn of more northern climates.
The Spring Allergy Season, Summer Allergy Season, and the Fall Allergy Season are the most common uses of the seasonal view of allergies in Florida. Lacking anything environmentally akin to most “winter conditions”, Florida does not have much concern in terms of allergies relegated to the winter months or colder climates.
Are Allergic Reactions Worse in Florida?
Allergens, allergies, and allergic reactions can be challenging no matter where you live. In the case of severe allergic reactions such as those resulting in the patient suffering from anaphylaxis, the surrounding environment is largely inconsequential.
For other allergic reactions, primarily those associated with the nasal passages, the eyes, and the respiratory system, the combination of heat and humidity so prevalent in Florida can exacerbate or make some of the symptoms worse. This is especially true for people who have moved to Florida from the northern climates, and who may not be accustomed to such high humidity and heat levels.
What Are the Most Common Allergies in Florida?
While pollens are common throughout the spring and summer in Florida, the pollen in the air is measurably worse in the springtime for allergy sufferers. There will also be flowers blooming throughout the year in Florida which can also lead to seemingly longer periods of time for those who tend to suffer with reactions to pollen and other natural growth.
Allergic reactions to foods and medicines can of course happen at any time, though they do seem to occur more frequently during holiday seasons, perhaps because of the large number of people cooking for others, and not commonly asking if there are any special dietary needs, or assuming that food does not contain anything that the individual may be allergic to in the first place.
Are Reactions to Poisons Considered to be Allergic Reactions?
Are physical reactions to poison considered allergic reactions?A body that has had poison introduced in any capacity, will suffer from an “adverse reaction” but this is not the same as a typical allergic reaction. Poisons contain toxins, generally at large enough levels to preclude the ability of the natural bodies to successfully negate the effect of the toxins.
Poisons are toxins that are generally harmful to all people equally, with the exception of some who may have built up an immunity to specific poisons or toxic substances either intentionally or inadvertently, generally through the consumption of small doses over lengthy periods of time.
An individual would undoubtedly have an adverse reaction to the venom if they were bitten by a Coral Snake or Copperhead, but this would not in any way be considered an allergic reaction to the poison.
Are Food Intolerances Considered Allergies?
Gluten-free seems to have taken on a life of its own, despite a very small portion of the population actually being intolerant. Lactose intolerance is far more common, but the inability of the body to properly or adequately digest food that has been consumed is not considered to be an allergic reaction.
The same holds true for food poisoning, as with any case of poisoning, dangerous toxins have been introduced to the system, and the natural antibodies within the body will attempt to fight off these toxins, but this is not medically deemed to be the same thing as an allergic reaction.
Why Should I use Advanced Health Care For My Allergies?
Advanced Health Care MD in Boca Raton is fully equipped with all the latest diagnostic equipment and medical specialists in virtually every field. As such, AHCMD is uniquely prepared to deal with all of your medical needs, providing personal and professional medical services. Even if you may be allergic to regular check ups and routine preventative medical care, we can still make you feel right at home.