Last updated date: 28-Aug-2023
Originally Written in English
Allergies develop if the body's immune system responds to foreign material or food that normally causes no reaction in most people. The foreign substance can be pollen, pet dander, or bee venom.
Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system. If you have allergies, the immune system releases antibodies that mistakenly identify a harmless allergen as harmful. The reaction of the immune system to the allergen might inflame your sinuses, skin, air paths, or digestive system when you come into contact with it.
In addition, allergies often vary in severity from one person to another. Besides, they tend to range from mild irritation and discomfort to anaphylaxis, a possibly fatal emergency. Although most allergies are incurable, some medications can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Allergies
A number of factors contribute to the symptoms and effects you encounter because of allergies. These factors can include the kind of allergy you have and its severity. You might as well experience any of the following symptoms even if you take some medicine before an expected allergic reaction. However, they may be less serious.
- Food allergies
Food allergies can lead to swelling, nausea, hives, fatigue, and other associated symptoms. It can take a long time for someone to know they have a food allergy. If you experience a severe reaction immediately, eat something and aren't sure of the reason, consult a physician right away. They might be able to pinpoint the source of your reaction or even refer you to an expert.
- Seasonal allergies
The signs of hay fever may be mistaken for those of a cold. Congestion, allergies runny nose, and swollen eyes are among the common symptoms. In most cases, you can use over-the-counter medications to manage the symptoms while at home. However, if the symptoms get worse or unmanageable, then you should see a doctor.
- Severe allergies
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction caused by severe allergies. This is also an emergency issue that can cause difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, and unconsciousness. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially after contacting a potential allergen, seek medical attention right away.
Causes of Allergies
When the body's immune system misidentifies a usually harmless component as a harmful invader, an allergy develops. The immune system will then release antibodies that keep the body on the lookout for the allergen in question. If you get exposed again to the allergen, the antibodies will release a variety of immune system chemicals like histamine. This is a chemical that triggers allergy symptoms.
The most common forms of allergens are;
- Products derived from animals: Pet dander, cockroaches, and dust mite waste, and are examples.
- Medications: Drugs such as penicillin and sulfa are the common triggers.
- Foods: Allergies to wheat, milk, nuts, eggs, and shellfish are popular.
- Insect stings: Bees, mosquitoes, and wasps are among the insects that can cause allergies
- Mold: The mold spores in the air can cause an allergic reaction.
- Plants: The allergens from plants include pollen from grass, trees, weeds, and resin from plants like poison oak and poison ivy.
- Other allergens include latex, which is commonly used in latex gloves and condoms, or metals such as nickel.
Risk Factors of Allergies
You may be at a high risk of developing an allergy if;
- You are a child
- You have a family background of allergies, including hives, eczema, or hay fever
- You have asthma or any other allergic disorder
To determine if you have any allergies, the physician is likely to inquire about the signs and symptoms you are experiencing. They will also conduct a physical examination where they will ask you to record the physical signs and the potential triggers.
For food allergies, the doctor can ask you to take note of the common foods you consume. During the allergy assessment, the doctor will tell you to stop taking the possible food allergen.
The medical provider can also suggest one or both of these diagnostic procedures. But you should be mindful that the allergy tests can be either incorrectly positive or incorrectly negative.
Skin test: During this test, the medical provider will poke the skin and administer small doses of proteins present in possible allergens. In case you are allergic, a raised bump or hive will appear on the skin at the test site.
Blood test: Some IgE or sIgE blood testing, also known as radioallergosorbent test (RAST) or ImmunoCAP testing, determines the number of antibodies causing the allergies referred to as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies throughout the bloodstream. A sample of blood is taken to a medical lab for further analysis of signs of potential allergen sensitivity.
The treatment and preventive options for allergies involve staying away from the reaction triggers. In a situation where this is impossible, you can consider the following available treatment alternatives;
Drugs can be helpful in reducing the immune system's reaction and alleviate symptoms depending on the type of allergy. The doctor can prescribe over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs in liquid or pill form, eye drops, and nasal sprays. The common allergy drugs include;
- Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine
- Cromolyn sodium
Immunotherapy is a common choice among allergy patients. This entails a series of injections over several years to enable the body to adjust to the type of allergy. In addition, allergy signs and symptoms can be avoided with effective immunotherapy.
A tablet that is put beneath the tongue (sublingual) till it dissolves is another type of immunotherapy. Certain pollen allergies are treatable with sublingual medications.
Conduct an emergency epinephrine shot if you have a serious, fatal allergy. Before the emergency medical team arrives, the shot will help prevent adverse allergic reactions. EpiPen and Twinject are two popular brands of this treatment.
The medical provider can assist you in identifying and avoiding allergy causes. This is the most crucial step in avoiding allergic reactions and alleviating the associated signs and symptoms.
Natural Treatment Options for Allergies
Most natural treatments, as well as supplements, are promoted as a cure for allergies and a great way to avoid them. Before you try any of these, talk to your medical provider first.
Other natural allergies remedies can contain additional allergens, which can aggravate your symptoms. Certain dried teas, for instance, contain plants and flowers which are closely similar to plants that could be making you sneeze excessively.
The same can be said for essential oils. While other individuals use essential oils to alleviate common allergy symptoms, they also comprise ingredients that can trigger allergies. There are a variety of natural remedies for each form of allergy that can help hasten the recovery process.
Complications of Allergies
Experiencing allergic reaction or having an allergy elevates the risk of other medical issues such as;
Asthma: You are most likely to develop asthma if you have an allergy. Asthma is an immune system reaction affecting your air paths and breathing. Asthma is often brought about by exposure to an allergen in the atmosphere (allergy-induced asthma).
Infections of the lungs or ears, as well as sinusitis: In case you have asthma or hay fever, you are more likely to develop these disorders.
Anaphylaxis: When you have extreme allergies, the chances of experiencing this life-threatening allergic reaction increase. The most prevalent causes of anaphylaxis are foods, drugs, or insect stings.
Allergies in Babies
Today, skin allergies are typically common among younger children, unlike how they were decades ago. Skin allergies, on the other hand, become less common as children get older. Also, as children grow older, food allergies and respiratory get more common.
The following are some of the most popular skin allergies in kids:
Eczema: An inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by an itchy, red rash. These rashes can appear gradually, but they are persistent.
Hives: These are raised or red bumps on the skin that appear after being exposed to an allergen. The hives may not be scaly or break, but scratching them will cause the skin to bleed.
Allergic contact dermatitis: This form of skin allergy develops rapidly, often right after the child comes in contact with an allergen. Contact dermatitis that is more severe can lead to painful blisters and skin cracking.
Coughing, sneezing, and constant, stubborn coughs are all signs of hay fever. It is caused by the hypersensitivity of the body to allergens. Although it is not infectious, it’s much unpleasant and irritating.
A cough triggered by allergies or hay fever, unlike a persistent cough, is only temporary. The signs associated with this seasonal allergy may only appear at certain periods of the year, such as when plants begin to bloom.
Seasonal allergies can also cause asthma, which can lead to coughing. If an individual with prevalent seasonal allergies gets exposed to an allergen, their air paths tighten, resulting in a cough. Chest tightening and shortness of breath are also possible symptoms.
Molds, pollen, animal dander, latex, insect stings, and some foods are examples of common harmless substances that can cause allergies. Allergy symptoms can vary from mild (allergies rash, or hives, itching, running nose, watery or red eyes) to life-threatening.
Allergies are not curable. However, the available remedies can help manage and regulate the symptoms. Antihistamines, nasal steroids, decongestants, asthma medications, as well as immunotherapy are some of the treatments available.