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Allergic Diseases

Is there more than one allergic disease?


Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is caused by allergy to pollens of trees, grasses, weeds, or by mold spores. The name, hay fever, is actually a misnomer since hay is not a common allergen and no fever occurs. Depending on what you are allergic to, the section of the country and the pollination periods, seasonal allergic rhinitis may occur in the spring, summer, or fall and may last until the first frost. The sufferer has spells of sneezing, itching and watery eyes, runny nose, burning palate and throat. Seasonal allergies also can trigger asthma.


Allergic rhinitis is a general term used to apply to anyone who has symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose due to allergies. This may be a seasonal problem as with hay fever or it may be a year-round problem caused by other allergens such as house dust, animal dander, and molds.  Frequently this problem is complicated by sinusitis and patients with constant nasal symptoms should consult with their allergist.


Non-allergic rhinitis is a similar disorder characterized by an inflammation in the nose and nasal passages. It can be caused by polyps, structural abnormalities, mediations, fumes, odors, temperature, and atmospheric changes, or by the presence of the eosinophil cells.


Asthma is a chronic reversible condition characterized by the narrowing of the bronchial tubes, swelling of the bronchial tube lining and presence of mucus secretion that can plug up the airways. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Patients with asthma are affected adversely by many so-called non-specific factors such as air pollutants, tobacco smoke, fumes, etc. Asthma may begin at any age and if neglected, tends to recur and become chronic.


Eczema or allergic dermatitis is a non-contagious, itchy rash which often occurs in the creases of the arms, legs, and neck; it can even cover the whole entire body. This condition is frequently associated with allergies and substances an individual is sensitive to which may cause aggravation; food may be important cause of this problem.


Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction affecting areas of the skin which become red, itchy and inflamed after contact with certain substances such as plants, cosmetics, medications, metals and chemicals. The most common cause of contact dermatitis is poison ivy. 


Urticaria or hives is an outbreak on the skin of red, itchy welts of varying sizes. When the swellings are large and invade deeper tissues, they are called angioedema. They may develop on the face, lips, tongue, throat, eyes, ears, or even internally. Hives can be caused by allergic or non-allergic mechanisms. Allergy to foods such as nuts, tomatoes, shellfish, and berries and medications such as penicillin and aspirin, are well-known causes. Many times the exact cause cannot be determined.