Whether it is seasonal or a reaction to a specific food, allergies can be bothersome or dangerous. With seasonal allergies, depending on where people live, allergies can begin to affect them as early as February.

Those who suffer from food or other allergies feel the effects year-round. The key to getting relief is finding out exactly which allergies are triggers 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 ingested.

Common seasonal allergens and when sufferers may begin to experience a reaction are:

Trees: February to June

Grasses: May to August

Ragweed: August to October

Mold: Does not fluctuate by season

Common food allergens are:

Nuts

Eggs

Milk/Dairy

Fish

Shellfish/Seafood

Wheat

Soy

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.

A primary care manager uses 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.

For more information, visit the Allergy Services page on the TRICARE website at www.tricare.mil to learn more about what treatment options are available.

Call 907-APPT to schedule an appointment with a primary care manager to help find the best way to relieve allergy symptoms.