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What Happens in a Nasal Allergy Attack?

Updated at: Apr 10, 2015
Written by: Meenakshi ChaudharyPublished at: Apr 10, 2015
What Happens in a Nasal Allergy Attack?

Nasal allergies are quite common but what does actually happen during a nasal allergy? Nasal allergies are a result of your immune system reacting to substances in the air that you breathe in.

Nasal allergy is a condition in which the body’s immune system mistakes substances in the inhaled air as being intruders and starts to attack them. The reaction of your body’s immune system leads to release of substances that cause inflammation in the nasal lining. Such allergy-triggering agents or allergens can be present anywhere. Some of the most common allergens include pollen, ragweed, grass, pet dander, dust, mites and mold. If you have this allergy, you could be sensitive to one or more allergens.


You can come in contact with allergens while cleaning, playing with your pet or just being outdoors during allergy season. An allergic reaction can start just by touching, swallowing or inhaling an allergen. Normally, the immune system protects you against any such threats of viruses and bacteria but when you come in contact with pollen to which you are allergic, your immune system takes it as threat and becomes ready to fight. Once the allergen enters your body, your immune system starts making antibodies to get rid of the pollen.

The antibodies look for the allergen and once they find it, they alert mast cells. In return, the mast cells release chemicals such as histamine which causes inflammation. The tissues around vessels begin to tighten due to inflammation and the fluid begins to escape causing runny nose, swelling and congestion in the nose. In most cases, people get allergies from their families. A child’s chances of having allergies is more if both the parents have allergies. What you are allergic to is also dependent on your exposure to the triggers.




Preventing Allergies

Avoid allergy triggers whenever you can. Checking pollen or mold reports before going outside can also be helpful. If the trigger levels are high, try avoiding going out, but if you must step out, wear a mask. During allergy season, always take shower before going to bed so you don't sleep with pollen in your hair. Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner. Vacuuming twice a week can help you cut down on allergens.


Treating Allergies

Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, and nasal sprays also may help control symptoms and give you allergy relief. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor to discuss what might  be helpful to you.


When to See an Allergist

If you don’t know what’s causing your allergies, or if they’re severe, visit a doctor. An allergist or immunologist will take your medical history and may do some allergy tests. Tests will involve exposing self to different allergens to see which one is causing the reaction. Depending on your allergies, your doctor may suggest prescription medications or allergy shots.


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