Everyone gets allergies of some kind. Because of this polluted atmosphere, there is no chance that people remain unaffected by it. It is not just the pollution, you can get an allergy from any of the substance that is present around you. Allergies are actually your hypersensitive responses from the immune system to those substances that either enter or come into contact with your body. These substances may be anything like pollen, pet dander, animal fur, bee venom etc. The substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen. It can be found in food, drinks, air, or the environment. Many of them might be harmless while some may be harmful. The contact with allergens may cause people to sneeze, peel skin or vomit. It is a very common overreaction of the immune system to any foreign or usually harmless substance. When at first person comes into contact with allergens, it might not affect him immediately, but gradually they build up the sensitivity from the substance and result in the overreaction.
The immune system needs some time to recognize the allergen and remember them so that if in future it attacks the body, the immune system must be alert. As it becomes sensitive to the substance, the immune system starts making antibodies to attack it. The process is referred as sensitization. Allergies may be seasonal. For example, hay fever can cause allergy between April and May, as the count of pollen may be higher. The number of people having allergies is increasing. According to the research, 30% of adults and 40% of children in The United States have allergies from some of the substances.
What are the symptoms?
An allergic reaction may cause inflammation as well as irritation of the skin. Its sign and symptom depend on the type of allergen. The reactions can occur anywhere like airways, gut, sinuses, airways, nasal passages etc.
Some common triggers and their reactions that affect people are:
2. Swollen and watery eyes
3. Runny nose
4. Blocked eyes
5. Itchy eyes
6. Itchy nose
- Skin reactions:
1. Stomach cramps
2. Shortness of breath
3. Tingling in the mouth
4. Swollen tongue
7. Itching in mouth
- Insect Stings:
1. Itchy skin
2. Swelling in the affected area
4. Shortness of breath
6. Chest tightness
2. Skin Rash
4. Swollen lips or tongue
What are the causes of allergies?
Allergic reactions are generally caused by a specific antibody called immunoglobulin that is released to fight foreign and potentially harmful substances in the body. It has also been known that when immune system pathways encounter allergenic proteins in the environment, it leads to inflammation. Immunoglobulin present in the body produces a chemical called histamine that causes tightening of the muscles in airways and the walls of the blood vessels instructing the lining of the nose to produce more mucus.
Some risk factors include:
- Family history of asthma
- Not being much exposed to sunlight
Most common and potential allergens appear everywhere. Some of those are:
- Animal Fur
- Some medications like penicillin, salicylic acid etc may also be the trigger.
- Household chemicals
What is the diagnosis?
When you experience some symptoms and you go to doctor, he may recommend you some tests like
- Blood Test: This is an effective test that measures the level of immunoglobulin that has been released by the immune system. It is also called radioallergosorbent test (RAST).
- Patch Test: This test can identify eczema. The doctor checks for the reaction after 48 hours.
What are the treatments available:
The most effective treatment is avoidance of all the allergens. If you are allergic to dust, it might not be completely possible to avoid it or if you get reactions from pollen, this may be problematic, as pollens are floating everywhere.
- Medications: There are various drugs available that are used to treat the symptoms of allergies. Majority of them are over-the-counter drugs. Few of them are:
1. Antihistamines: They block the action of histamines. Some might not be suitable for children, therefore it is necessary to first get prescription from the doctor.
2. Steroid Sprays: These are usually applied to the lining of the nose to help reduce nasal congestion.
3. Decongestants: They help reduce blocked nose in case of fever caused by reactions to allergens.
- Immunotherapy: It is also commonly known as hyposensitization that rehabilitates the entire immune system. It is used to treat severe allergies.
What are the preventions?
There is no exact way to prevent allergies. However, we can reduce its symptoms. Treatments can help reduce the effects of allergic reactions, but still, it is necessary to avoid any exposure to specific allergens. Specific food allergies can be challenging to manage, as their traces might appear in some kinds of meal. Make sure first you know what are the triggers that affect you and take all the necessary steps to avoid them.
This is all about allergies, their causes and how they can be prevented. If you like the article, do share your experience of how you tackled asthma.