All You Should Know About Allergies
An allergy is the immune system response to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergens which can include certain foods or pollen. Common allergens that can trigger allergic reactions in the body include pollen, pet dander, and bee venom. People also have allergic reactions to certain foods and medications.
Allergies are commonly occurring among people and several treatments can help you avoid your symptoms.
Causes of allergic reactions
Allergic reactions can be caused when the body comes in contact with any allergen such as
animal products like pet dander, dust mite waste, cockroaches, drugs like Penicillin and sulfa, foods like wheat, nuts, milk, shellfish, and eggs, and insect stings of bees, wasps, and mosquitoes. Airborne spores from mold can trigger a reaction too. Pollens from grass, weeds, and trees, and resin from plants such as poison ivy and poison oak, are ubiquitous plant allergens. Latex which can be found in latex gloves and condoms and metals like nickel are also common allergens.
Types of allergies
Allergies are classified according to what substances cause them, or the parts of the body they affect.
Allergic rhinitis is a nasal allergy and is caused by breathing air that contains an allergen. Allergic rhinitis is the most common respiratory allergy and also the most commonly occurring allergies in general. Allergic rhinitis usually occurs during certain seasons and referred to as intermittent allergic rhinitis. Persistent allergic rhinitis can also occur throughout the year for some people.
Some other common respiratory allergies include those that affect the sinuses (allergic sinusitis), the bronchial tubes (asthma), and the lungs (hypersensitivity pneumonitis).
Contact dermatitis is a skin allergy which is characterized by itchy rashes, and is more common in adults than in children. It can be caused by contact with a natural substance (e.g. cat fur) or a manufactured item (e.g. soap) that becomes an allergen.
Atopic dermatitis or eczema is also a kind of skin allergy. Eczema is primarily caused by very dry skin. The rash appearing on skin is always itchy and can be acute or chronic.
Hives or urticaria causes large, itchy red bumps on the skin. They’re caused by a systemic immune reaction of the entire body to factors such as certain foods, pollen, animal dander, drugs, insect bites, cold, heat, light or emotional stress. Hives can also last for months to years and can appear anywhere on the body.
Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common causes of food allergies are the proteins in cow’s milk, egg white, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Other less common causes of food allergy include fruit, shellfish, beans, and some preservatives and colorants.
An allergic reaction to food is known to mostly occur within five minutes to about half an hour of eating the food. It can at times be difficult to determine which allergens are responsible for a food allergy, because reactions to foods are sometimes delayed.
The most commonly occurring drug allergy is a reaction to antibiotics in the penicillin family. Some other drugs that can cause allergic reactions include other antibiotics, aspirin and other painkillers, muscle relaxants, general anesthesia, local anesthetics, and dyes injected into the blood for X-ray purposes. Drug allergies can also be caused by some other drugs like sulphas, barbiturates, and anticonvulsants.
Insects that van cause sting allergy include honey bees, yellow jacket wasp and paper wasp.
Allergic reactions to insect stings can be dangerous and it’s best recommended to carry an emergency adrenaline auto-injector for people who know they are allergic to insect stings. Injecting yourself with the adrenaline will help to counteract allergic symptoms until you can receive medical attention from a professional.
An allergic reaction occurs if the person inhales, touches, swallows, injects, or somehow comes into contact with the allergen. Allergic reactions can be mild, severe, or even life threatening and the symptoms will vary, depending on the type of allergens.
Rhinitis is commonly associated with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and teary eyes.
An allergic food reaction may also share some of the above symptoms, but it can also cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
A skin allergy or insect bite can cause redness, swelling, pain and itching in the infected area.
Risks and complications
One of the most dangerous allergic complications is anaphylaxis, which is commonly associated with allergies involving food, drugs like penicillin, and insect venom. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and it can cause seizures, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), shock, or respiratory distress.
Another serious complication that can be caused by allergies is asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflamed airways and trouble in breathing. An asthma attack causes chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and episodes of severe shortness of breath which is dangerous for health.
There are no outright cures for allergies, but effective treatment can reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. Allergy treatments can vary, depending on the severity of your condition and the type of allergy you have.
If your allergies are less severe you may be able to find an effective over-the-counter treatment. This includes antihistamines (which blocks the effects of histamine), decongestants and nasal steroid sprays (which relieve congestion). At home you can try remedies like acupuncture and nasal irrigation techniques which may help relieve allergy symptoms.
For severe allergies you must see a doctor.
Tags: Anaphylaxis, Food allergies, Allergy symptoms