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Special Health Reports

Controlling Your Allergies

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Controlling Your Allergies

Whether you get skin rashes, itchy eyes, wheezy airways, or a runny nose, an allergic response is no fun, and is sometimes dangerous. In Controlling Your Allergies, you'll learn to identify your allergic symptoms, pinpoint your triggers, distinguish between intolerance and allergy, and choose the best treatment for your particular type of allergy.

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No matter what you are allergic to — pollens or pets…fragrances or foods — you suffer when symptoms arise. You’re fine one moment and then suddenly find yourself sneezing, scratching, wheezing, or worse.

In this Special Health Report, you’ll find allergy relief. The report focuses on the keys to controlling allergies and gives you expert guidance for minimizing your risks, for lessening your exposure to allergens and irritants, and for instituting swift and effectual treatment.

This report will give you an understanding of the importance of (and obstacles to) an accurate diagnosis…the one test that is quick and inexpensive…the one prone to false positives …and six you should skip.

Prepared by Harvard Medical School doctors, Controlling Your Allergies offers a comprehensive guide to more than 60 allergy and asthma medications to help you make the most safe and beneficial choices. You’ll be briefed on new therapies and you’ll learn practical steps for reducing the most prevalent allergens in your home, yard, and elsewhere.

Plus, a Special Section looks at diagnosing and treating food allergies, from life-threatening peanut allergies to a new, tick-related red meat allergy. You’ll learn which eight foods are responsible for 90% of all food allergies and emerging ways to address celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

You can take control of your allergies. You can be healthier and happier. Order for your copy of this Special Health Report now!

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Caroline L. Sokol, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Assistant Physician, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, 53 pages. (2021)

  • Allergies: A growing menace
  • Why are you allergic?
    • Your genes
    • Your environment
  • What happens during an allergic reaction?
    • Immediate hypersensitivity reactions
    • Delayed hypersensitivity reactions
    • Anaphylaxis: Immediate action required
  • Pinpointing your allergic triggers
    • Keep track of your allergy attacks
    • Skin testing for immediate hypersensitivity reactions
    • Skin testing for delayed hypersensitivity reactions
    • Blood testing (IgE immunoassays)
    • Food allergy testing
    • Drug challenges
    • Unproven tests
  • Controlling common allergic conditions
    • Allergic rhinitis, including hay fever (nose)
    • Allergic asthma (lungs)
    • Allergic conjunctivitis (eyes)
    • Eczema (skin)
    • Contact dermatitis (skin)
    • Hives (skin)
    • Eosinophilic esophagitis (esophagus)
    • Drug allergy
    • Vaccine allergies
    • Stinging insect allergies
    • Latex allergies
  • Special Section: Food allergies
  • Allergy prevention
    • Pollen
    • Molds and other fungi
    • Dealing with dust mites
    • Roaches on the run
    • Pouncing on pet dander
  • Appendix: Drugs for allergy and asthma
  • Resources
  • Glossary

Allergies and climate change

Evidence of climate change is all around us, from melting ice caps to increases in certain allergies. Perhaps most obvious, with more frost-free weeks in the year, pollen seasons are growing longer, prolonging the misery of anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies. For example, a ragweed plant of today produces significantly more pollen per plant — and over a longer period of time each year — than in the past. The Environmental Protection Agency found that in parts of North America, the ragweed pollen season increased by as much as 25 days from 1995 to 2015.

In general, warmer air is linked to poorer air quality with increased pollutants. But climate change is about more than rising temperatures. “Hundred-year” floods are becoming all too common in some parts of the country, not to mention longer hurricane seasons, worse droughts, and record-setting wildfire seasons. All of this is bad news for people with asthma and allergies. Increased precipitation and flooding can promote the growth of mold, which creates health problems for people whose allergies or asthma are triggered by mold spores. Droughts can mean more dust and particulate matter. Intense wildfires generate dangerous amounts of smoke, which can trigger non-allergic asthma and rhinitis.

More rarely, some people suffer from a phenomenon called thunderstorm asthma, in which strong downdrafts break allergenic particles, such as large pollen grains, into tiny fragments that are small enough to enter the lungs, triggering an asthma attack. Normally these particles are filtered out by nose hair before reaching the lungs and therefore do not usually play an important part in asthma.

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