Soft grass. Crunchy peanuts. Man’s best friend. The things to which people can be allergic are extensive, with both environmental and genetic roots. Regardless of the root cause, allergies have one thing in common: They can dramatically impact the quality of life.
The Big Eight
More than 50 million Americans suffer from at least one of the eight primary allergies, ranking allergies as the sixth highest cause of chronic illness in the United States. Given that more than 20 percent of the U.S. population is affected by allergies, it’s imperative to have a clear understanding of the eight leading allergies and how each type presents in patients.
- Pollen allergies are triggered by tiny pollen grains, which are released by plants – ones that are not fertilized by inserts – to fertilize other plants in the same species. These allergies typically present as sneezing, stuffy nose and watery eyes.
- Mold allergies are triggered when mold spores are inhaled and typically present as watery eyes, dry skin and coughing.
- Dust allergies are triggered when dust is inhaled, a single spec of which can contain pet dander, mold spores, dead skin, dust mites and even dead cockroach particles. Similar to pollen and mold allergies, dust allergies commonly present as itchy, red or watery eyes, and a stuffy or runny nose.
- Medication allergies occur when the immune system has a hypersensitivity reaction that views a drug as an antigen. These allergies present as swelling in the throat or mouth, wheezing, a decrease in blood pressure, fainting or digestive symptoms.
- Food allergies occur when a person’s immune system creates an IgE antibody that clashes with certain foods, presenting as hives, dizziness, vomiting or emergent swelling in the mouth. An estimate 32 million Americans have at least one food allergy, including more than 5.5 million children under age 18. Approximately 200,000 people seek emergency medical attention each year as a result of food allergies.
- Pet allergies occur when the immune system reacts to proteins in animal dander, saliva or urine, typically from pets with fur, such as dogs and, more frequently, cats. Without question, we’re a pet-loving nation, and nearly half of all U.S. households have at least one dog, followed closely by more than one-third of households having at least one cat. Notably, 90 percent of all U.S. households have detectable levels of dog and cat allergens, leading to pet allergy symptoms that present as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose or nasal congestion.
- Insect allergies occur when the immune system overacts to the venom from a stinging insect, such as wasps, bees, yellow jackets, hornets and ants. Mild reactions present as redness, moderate swelling, warmth, pimple-like spots or itching. Severe reactions are anaphylactic and require emergency care for trouble breathing, hives, wheezing, rapid pulse, swelling of the face, throat or tongue, dizziness or a decrease in blood pressure.
- Latex allergies are a reaction to certain proteins in natural rubber latex, a product made from the rubber tree, used to manufacture balloons, gloves, rubber bands, rubber gloves, condoms, pacifiers, baby bottle nipples and toys. Symptoms present as itchy skin, hives or even life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Seasonal Allergies: Spring Forward Through the Calendar
Of these eight primary types of allergies, seasonal allergies can be particularly difficult to control since they are tied to the natural environment. Seasonal allergies are primarily triggered by tiny pollen grains, which are released by plants – ones that are not fertilized by inserts – to fertilize other plants in the same species. Hundreds of plant species release extremely small, lightweight pollen grains into the air, which are picked up and carried by the wind. It’s not surprising that 80 percent of people who suffer from allergies say they’re allergic to pollen.
While there is often talk about a single “allergy season” at the onset of spring, the following 30,000-foot look at allergies demonstrates that there are multiple allergy seasons over the course of a year.
Spring is currently in the air, which not only brings April showers and May flowers, but also allergies to flower and grass pollens.
With the arrival of summer, June sees a continuation of grass pollen, which subsides in July and is replaced with fungus spores and mold spores that grow on grasses, grains, compost piles and fallen leaves. Mold spore counts are particularly high amid the heat and humidity in August.
Ragweed is high from August into September – oftentimes beyond – because its lightweight pollen grains spread easily. Seasonal rain and wind associated with fall extends mold and fungi spore allergies in the warmer southern climates during October, although cooler temperatures in northern states provide some respite. November brings relief from outdoor allergies but an uptick in indoor allergies to pet dander and various molds. Indoor allergies continue during the winter months.
Christmas trees in December can harbor microscopic mold spores, and turning up the heat in January and other cold months kicks up house dust. These mold and dust allergens continue to wreak havoc in February, just as tree pollen begins to re-appear.
The approach of spring in March brings with it tree, grass and pollen allergens, setting the wheels in motion for a repeat cycle…month after month…year after year.
Hidden Indoor Allergens
As much as people suffer from outdoor allergies, it’s not surprising that they also suffer from indoor allergies because Americans spend an average 90 percent of their time indoors.
Indoor pollutants are two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. No matter how clean a home is, house dust exists. Dust mites and mold spores are rampant in carpeting, upholstered furniture and non-washable fabrics, and homes with pets, particularly those with fur, will likely have dander. The resulting airborne dust includes particles from both inside and outside the home, including soil and plant material, human skin, dander, fibers, mold spores and insect fragments, among other dust debris.
Unlike revolving seasonal allergies, indoor allergies don’t have a “season,” resulting in significant, ongoing suffering in many American households.
Unique Testing for Inhalant, Food and Contact Allergens
Given the prevalence of allergy suffering and the potential for life-threatening reactions, it’s crucial for physicians to utilize scientifically advanced allergy testing for accurate diagnoses.
Diax Labs offers a unique allergy diagnostic that utilizes an IgE blood test that measures the body’s immune response to 71 specific inhalant, food and contact allergens. This extensive, widely sought allergy panel tests for:
- Common zone allergens for each of the nation’s eight allergy zones
- Food allergens, including milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, crustacean shellfish, eggs and raw produce
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Latex and plant-based rubber
The Advantages of Blood Testing
The bottom line speaks for itself. Diax Labs’ widely trusted allergy test provides:
√ The most effective allergy diagnostic
√ The greatest accuracy of results
√ No risk of medications impacting results
√ No risk of an allergic reaction during a blood test
√ Quick and relatively painless
√ The lowest margin of error
Here to Assist You
Allergy testing is an important component of patient care for those suffering from food, inhalant or contact allergies.
If you are an independent physician or laboratory marketing professional that sells to independent physicians, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you one on one about our allergy testing panel. To learn more or to schedule a virtual presentation, please click Learn More below.