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Student Health Services

Allergies

What are Allergies?

Allergy symptoms, which may include hay fever, rashes, hives, dry & itching eyes and dry cough may also occasionally cause more severe reactions of swelling, wheezing and shock. Allergic reactions may occur to anything in your environment, but certain things are commonly the culprits. Allergies are really just an over-reaction of your immune system to things that you come into contact with. Your body is trying to protect you from something and over does it a bit.

What Am I Allergic To?

Common environmental irritants include dusts, molds, animal dander, wool, feathers, soaps, perfumes, and smoke. Outside, insect stings, pollens, sun exposure, and plant saps. Many people are allergic to foods such as milk (especially children), nuts, berries, seasonings, and seafood. Any medication, even non-prescription drugs like aspirin, iodine, and topical anesthetics may cause reactions. You may notice that these things bother you when you are near them, or you may not make the connection right away. Experience will often tell you what you need to avoid, or, you can be tested to see what things bother you.

How Do I Get Rid Of Allergies?

Avoidance is the key to minimizing reactions. Identification of a difficult allergen may require the removal of many items from your environment, and the addition of them back one by one until a reaction occurs. Known culprits should be avoided by whatever means possible. Dusts and molds frequently hide in air conditioners. Frequent changing of filters and using special devices to remove particles will help. Dusting should be avoided by sensitive persons, or may be done while wearing a filter mask.

What about Medications?

Helpful medications include antihistamines, like Benadryl 25-50 mg every 6 hours, Atarax 25 mg every 6 hours and many others which are available over the counter, or by prescription.These medications may make you sleepy, so don't drive or drink with them or take them if you are pregnant, have glaucoma, enlarged prostate, or severe asthma. There are antihistamines which won't make you so sleepy, but they are more expensive, and available by prescription only. Claratin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are examples. Severe cases may need steroids for control. This type of medicine may be taken in pill form, or as a nasal spray. In tablet form, these drugs should be taken with meals, may be hard on the stomach, and have a number of side effects if taken for a prolonged period. Avoid steroids with ulcers, diabetes, aspirin and high blood pressure. Be certain to ask the staff of the Student Health and Wellness Center about any questions you may have about medications.