Health Info

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General Health - Allergies



Allergies can present with itchy eyes, nose and throat, persistent runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing and sometimes frontal headache.


These symptoms occur when the body mistakenly identifies certain things as dangerous and reacts to them as if they were germs or viruses. Your allergy began when for some reason your body became sensitive to a particular substance called an antigen or allergen. In the process, air-borne allergens cause the immune system to produce Immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies to fend off these "foreign intruders." These IgE antibodies attach
themselves to mast cells lining the nose, eyes and air passages. This causes the release of histamine which swells the nasal membrane and causes sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes. It is suspected that the tendency to develop allergies is inherited.

Common Allergens

Common allergens include dust mites, animal dander, molds, mildew and fungi, inhalants and plant pollens. Spring pollens include trees, while summer pollens suggest grasses, and fall allergies, weeds.

The mucosal membranes of people with allergies seem to be more susceptible than normal to the effects of tobacco smoke, weather changes, air pollution, emotional stress, alcohol, and infections. These triggering factors add to what doctors call your "allergic load," the amount of allergens your body can handle at any given time. If you exceed your allergic load, symptoms develop.

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Once suspected, your clinician may recommend medication to decrease symptoms. Allergy testing is usually not required but may be beneficial if medications are not helpful.

Tips for Allergy Sufferers

Tips for Eye Symptoms



Other Treatments:

Eye-drops for allergy treatment:

Antihistamine-decongestant eye drops are available over-the-counter and are relatively inexpensive. These drugs are only recommended for short-term use (no more than three days) since regular use of a decongestant may cause rebound congestion. Examples are naphazoline HCL/pheniramine maleate (generic for Naphcon-A or Visine-A).

Mast cell stabilizing medications combined with an antihistamine agent are popular because of the dual mechanism of action. The antihistamine action is quick acting whereas the mast cell stabilizing action is more delayed. These products are indicated for mild and moderately severe allergic symptoms. An example is ketotifen fumarate (generic for Zaditor or Alaway) which is available over the counter. There are others available by prescription.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents are another option. They work quickly and are useful when swelling and redness is present. They are only available by prescription and are typically more expensive.

Steroid eye drops are used for severe symptoms and are typically prescribed by an ophthalmologist.

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In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Send secure message to advice nurse via the UHS website or call 814-863-4463.


Appointments can be made online or by phone 814-863-0774, or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call or go online to cancel. Otherwise you will be charged for the visit.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee, reviewed 3/08/2017.

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