All you need to know about Allergies

Your immune system fights harmful pathogens by attacking and killing them. Allergy is the immune system’s exaggerated response to certain environmental substances that are not harmful. Allergens are foreign substances such as pollen, pet dander, or drugs that can cause severe allergies. 

Generally, you do not experience a reaction when your body encounters an allergen for the first time. However, on subsequent encounters, the immune system recognizes such materials and attacks them. To fight such allergens, your body prepares and releases antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) in self-defense. In addition, the symptoms of allergies majorly depend on the type and source of allergens. 

Types Of Allergies 

  1. Food allergies- A food allergy is responsible for tingling in the nose, throat, and mouth. In addition, runny nose, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (redness and swelling of eyes), and skin inflammation are the symptoms associated with it. 
  2. Seasonal allergies- You must have noticed that some people develop reactions such as cold, nasal congestion, running nose, or watery eyes seasonally. Such allergic reactions occur in particular seasons. 
  3. Severe allergies- When allergies take an ugly turn, they can become life-threatening. Light-headedness, mental confusion, difficulty in breathing, and loss of consciousness are some of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. 

Symptoms Of Allergies 

Allergic rhinitis- It is also known as hay fever. It causes inflammation of living tissues of the nose, ears, sinuses, and throats. Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy nose and throat are associated with it. 

Conjunctivitis- It is the inflammation of tissues covering eyeballs. Conjunctivitis is responsible for watery and itchy eyes with swelling and redness. 

Eczema- Generally, it is seen in infants. It leads to drying of the skin of the face, elbows, and knees. 

Hives- They are the red raised itchy spots on the skin. They cause intense itching and swelling. 

Causes Of Allergies 

Researchers suggest that there is a correlation between allergies and the genetic components of a person. That means, some allergies can pass on from parents to offspring. However, not all allergies are genetic. For instance, if a father is allergic to pollen, his child doesn’t need to be too. 

Following is a list of common allergens.

  • Animals and animal products including pet dander, cockroaches, or dust mite waste.
  • Milk and milk products such as cheese and curd.
  • Drugs including sulfa drugs and penicillin.
  • Stings of insects like bees, mosquitos, and wasps. 
  • Dust and pollen of grass, trees, and plants.
  • Certain food items including nuts, shellfish, wheat, egg, etc.
  • Airborne spores of molds 

Common Complications Arising Due To Allergies 

 

  • Anaphylaxis 

 

Anaphylaxis is a severe life-threatening allergic condition that can occur within a few minutes of exposure to the allergens. In this condition, our body produces massive amounts of chemicals causing a sudden drop in blood pressure and weakening of pulse. Anaphylaxis can also cause severe skin rashes, vomiting, dizziness, and nausea. 

 

  • Allergic Sinusitis 

 

Allergic sinusitis is a condition in which there is an inflammation of cavities and membranes of the respiratory passage. Exposure to dust, pollen, etc. is the primary cause of it. Nasal congestion, irritability, itchy eyes, throat, and sleep problems are the main symptoms of allergic sinusitis. 

 

  • Allergic asthma 

 

You are more likely to develop asthma if you have an allergy. Wheezing, sneezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath are the common signs and symptoms of allergic asthma. Allergic asthma can cause excessive face swelling, hives, mental confusion, and anxiety. 

What can you do to treat Allergies? 

Technically, allergy is a condition in which the immunological system attacks a foreign body that is not dangerous to your body. So, doctors generally use skin prick tests to detect the presence of an allergy. In this test, the healthcare professional pokes a needle containing potential allergen into your skin. Thereafter, the presence of skin bumps or rashes indicates an allergy. Additionally, spirometry, peak flow test, and checking lung functioning help in detecting allergies. The common signs and symptoms of allergies include nasal congestion, irritability, itchy eyes, runny nose, skin problems, and inflammation of the affected area. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs help treat allergies. It is always essential to consult a healthcare professional to resolve the issue. In addition, it helps in reducing the severity of allergic infections. 

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