Allergies: What Are They and How to Treat Them?

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen, pet fur or certain foods.

Dr. Wanda Lopez-Rodriguez, MD Chelsea, MA – Pediatrics and affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, in her participation in “Un Minuto de Salud en La Hora del Café”, a program of El Mundo Boston, tells us:

  • what allergies are,
  • the different types,
  • how they differ from a cold, and what can be done to
  • what can be done to improve the allergy condition.

What Are Allergies?

They are a condition in which the immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless.

When the body comes into contact with an allergen, such as pollen or pet saliva, the immune system produces antibodies that trigger the release of chemicals in the body.

This can cause a variety of symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, itching, congestion, among other more serious symptoms.

Allergies - My Health Fair

Types of allergies

There are several different types of allergies, which include:


These are caused by allergens such as pollen, grass and mold.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include sneezing, itching, congestion and runny nose.

To Food:

Occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to certain foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs.

Symptoms of this can range from mild to severe and may include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

To Drugs:

Drug allergies occur when the immune system reacts to certain medications, such as antibiotics, pain relievers and chemotherapy drugs.

Symptoms of drug allergies can range from mild to severe and may include rash, itching, swelling and difficulty breathing.

To insect stings:

The body overreacts to insect stings, such as bee, wasp and ant stings.

Symptoms of insect sting allergies can range from mild to severe and may include swelling, itching and anaphylaxis.

How Are Allergies Different From a Cold?

Allergies and colds can have similar symptoms, such as sneezing, congestion and runny nose.

However, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Duration: colds usually last 7 to 10 days, while allergies can last for weeks or even months.
  • Onset: colds usually come on gradually, while an allergic reaction tend to come on suddenly.
  • Fever: Colds can cause fever, while allergies do not.
  • Body aches: colds can cause body aches, while allergies do not.
  • Mucus color: colds may cause yellow or green mucus, while allergies usually cause clear mucus.

What Can Be Done to Improve the Allergy Condition?

There are several things that can be done to improve the allergy condition, which include:

Allergen avoidance:

The most effective way to control allergies is to avoid the allergens that trigger the reaction: avoid certain foods, stay indoors during high pollen count days, and use air filters to remove allergens from the air.


There are several medications that can help control these reactions, including antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays.

These medications can help relieve symptoms such as sneezing, itching and congestion.

Allergy shots:

Can help reduce symptoms by desensitizing the immune system to allergens over time.

This involves receiving regular allergen injections over a period of several years.

Natural remedies:

There are several natural remedies that can help improve allergy symptoms, such as drinking naturally occurring teas, using a saline nasal rinse, and taking vitamin supplements.

It is essential to consult a health care professional with any symptoms or concerns related to allergies or any other health condition.

While self-care measures can be helpful, the expertise of a health care provider is crucial in determining an accurate diagnosis and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Symptoms can vary and it is important to differentiate between allergies and other conditions, such as colds or infections.

A healthcare professional can provide personalized advice, recommend testing if necessary, prescribe medications and offer guidance on effective allergy management.

Seeking professional medical advice ensures the best possible care and helps promote overall health and well-being.

Our sources: Interview Dr. Wanda Lopez Rodriguez, NIAID, Health Line.

The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.

Readers should direct any questions regarding personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health professionals.