When does an allergy begin?

Allergies occur after a person with allergic tendencies is repeatedly exposed to the substance in his/her environment or his/her diet. It is estimated that at least 20% of the population is likely to develop some kind of allergy. What causes a person to develop an allergy? There is no standard way for an allergy to begin, and the onset may be sudden or gradual. For a person to become allergic to a substance, he/she must be exposed to it more than once, and generally that exposure is quite frequent. Often allergy symptoms develop after an unusual stress to the immune system such as following a severe viral infection.

What is hay fever?

"Hay fever" was named because of nasal symptoms developing during hay season, but most nasal allergies are called "hay fever." "Hay fever" occurs most frequently during the spring, summer or fall when trees, grasses and weeds produce pollen. One of the principal offenders is the ragweed plant which produces pollen from late summer until frost.

What substances from pets cause allergic symptoms?

Animals produce various substances that can cause an allergic reaction. The main culprits are proteins in the urine, saliva, or dander (dead skin flakes). In cats, for example, the main substances that cause problems are proteins found in cat saliva which often mixes with house dust. In rodents such as mice, rats or guinea pigs, it appears that urine contains the substance that most commonly causes allergy.

Should an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) treat my allergies?

An otolaryngologist is a doctor specializing in the treatment of ear, nose and throat diseases. Half of the problems these physicians encounter are probably due, either directly or indirectly to allergy. Chronic nasal congestion and post nasal drip, seasonal or constant, is often allergic and may be complicated by chronic sinus and middle ear disease. Hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, weeping ear canals, and chronic sore throats may be due to an allergy. The otolaryngologist who does his/her own allergy treatment is able to follow the patient's progress with specialized examinations and nose and throat medical and surgical treatment. An otolaryngologist not providing allergy care may refer you to a colleague for such care.