FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Whether it is seasonal or a reaction to a specific food, allergies can be bothersome or dangerous. With seasonal allergies, depending on where you live, allergies can begin to affect you as early as February. If you suffer from food or other allergies, the effects can be felt year-round. The key to getting relief is finding out exactly what you are allergic to as soon as possible.
Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to substances that do not bother the general population. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, allergic reactions are sensitivities to substances, known as allergens, which come into contact with the skin, nose, eyes, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. Allergens can be breathed into the lungs, swallowed, or injected.
Common seasonal allergens are:
• Trees: February to June
• Grasses: May to August
• Ragweed: August to October
• Mold: Does not fluctuate by season
Common food allergens are:
Reactions vary for each person when they are exposed to something to which they are allergic. First-time exposure may produce only a mild reaction. Mild allergic reactions include itching, rashes, watery or red eyes and nasal congestion.
Certain reactions can occur after several hours after exposure, particularly if the allergen causes a reaction after it has been eaten. In very rare cases, reactions develop after 24 hours. However, one of the most severe allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that occurs within minutes of exposure. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.
Doctors use skin and blood tests to diagnose allergies and determine treatment options. TRICARE covers services and supplies required in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. Treatments include medicines, allergy shots, and avoiding the substances that cause reactions.
If you suffer from allergies or need more information, please visit the Allergy Services page on the TRICARE website to learn more about what treatment options are available.