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Valley Life

*footnotes

March 24, 2000|JAMES E. FOWLER

Spring is here. Leaves are returning to the trees, birds are singing, flowers are blooming and people are sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever affects more than 40 million Americans each year.

* The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology defines allergies as abnormal reactions to ordinarily harmless substances called allergens. When inhaled, swallowed or touched, they cause the body's white blood cells to produce antibodies that trigger the release of histamine. Antihistamines are the primary drugs used to control allergic symptoms.

* With all the sneezing and sniffling, it's not uncommon for people to think they have colds. If the symptoms last for more than a week, it's probably allergies. And nasal discharge from allergies is clear, but clouded from a cold. Other allergic symptoms include wheezing, rashes, hives, and watery and swollen eyes.

* People can be allergic to pollen, mold spores, dust mites, foods, plants, chemicals, cats, dogs and other animals. Some allergies to foods, drugs and insect stings can even lead to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. It's been reported that an allergy to peanuts is responsible for 50% of all food-related deaths.

* Allergists are medical doctors who specialize in treating allergic diseases, immunological disorders and asthma. Dr. H. Farhadian of the Valencia Allergy & Asthma Center, is an allergist with an informative Web site: http://www.scvpro.com/allergy. If prescription drugs don't improve your symptoms, shots may help. Alternative health professionals also treat allergies.

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