Allergies are hypersensitive reactions of the immune system to ordinarily harmless substances. These substances known as allergens are deemed harmful by the body’s defence mechanism causing it to overreact upon exposure.
There are several allergens people react to most times. But generally, the common allergens include dust mites, pollen, moulds, animal proteins, foods, and medications.
What are the causes of Allergies?
A typical allergic bout occurs when the immune system mistakes certain substances as dangerous. This mistake causes the immune system to produce antibodies that remain on the lookout for that particular allergen.
When exposed to that substance again, the immune system releases the produced antibodies, resulting in distressing allergic symptoms.
Some allergy triggers include:
- Airborne allergens, such as animal dander, dust mites, pollen and mould
- Certain foods, particularly peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, eggs, milk and shellfish.
- Insect stings
- Medications, particularly penicillin-based antibiotics
- Latex, including condoms or other substances that come in contact with the skin.
What are the common types of Allergies?
Here are some common allergies and how you can identify them.
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
Also known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis is the most common allergic disease and usually affects the nose. Allergic rhinitis may occur around the year (perennial) or during a particular season (seasonal) and is caused mainly by indoor allergens, like mould, dust mites, or animal dander.
Symptoms often include runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy nose, ears, and throat, postnasal drip, or asthma.
- Allergic asthma
Allergic asthma is a respiratory condition that occurs due to the inflammation of the airways, causing difficulty breathing. People can have asthma and allergic rhinitis at the same time. Some symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and nasal congestion.
- Allergic eyes (conjunctivitis)
This type of allergic reaction occurs when the membranes covering the eyeball’s surface and the eyelid’s ground get swollen. This inflammation can affect both eyes and typically causes redness under the eyelids, redness of the eye, watery, itchy eyes, and membrane swelling.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition that usually occurs in early childhood and causes one’s skin to become dry, itchy, red, and cracked.
The rash can occur on any part of the body but is often found around the face, elbows, and behind the knees.
Hives or urticaria are skin reactions from certain foods, medication or animal contact, such as licking from cats or dogs. To identify hives, look out for raised, red lumps that go away with time, intense itching, and swelling of the face, lips, feet, and hand.
Anaphylactic is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that can affect several body organs simultaneously. Insect sting, foods, and medications are common allergens that lead to this type of allergy.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, inflammation of the throat and tongue, gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, nausea, difficult breathing, coughing and low blood pressure.
Treatment for Allergies
- Staying away from allergens
The primary and most natural treatment for allergies is prevention. You should work with a doctor to identify your allergy triggers and learn how to avoid them.
After identifying your allergen, a doctor may prescribe medications to ease symptoms and lessen exaggerated immune system reactions. These medications may come in the form of pills, nasal sprays, or eyedrops.
Immunotherapy shots may also be recommended for severe allergies or allergies that other allergy treatment methods cannot relieve. In this case, you will get injected with allergen extracts for a few years.
- Emergency epinephrine
Emergency epinephrine shots come in handy in cases of severe allergic reactions when symptoms must be stabilized before emergency treatment.
Allergies are a common feature among American youths and adults. You need a medical diagnosis to understand your type of allergy and the best treatment for it.