Everything That You Wanted to Know About Allergies
You might have come across people whose body reacts strangely when they eat specific foods like nuts or are exposed to dust. They might start sneezing, coughing, or even develop skin rashes or swelling. Have you ever wondered that how can a certain safe food make one’s skin swell or develop rashes? It happens because of allergies. In this article, we will know about allergies and dive into its details.
What are allergies?
When your immune system responds to the external elements that are generally safe for your body, it is known as allergy. Such substances include pollen, pet dander, specific foods, etc. These substances eliciting immunity response are known as allergens.
To fight diseases the immune system produces antibodies that act as warriors and attack the disease-causing factors. In people with allergies, these immunity-produced antibodies misidentify specific allergens (allergy-creating substances) as unsafe for the body and react strongly which causes symptoms like sinuses, skin inflammation, digestive disorders, or difficulty in breathing- among others.
What are some common symptoms of allergy?
As is clear by the explanation, the allergic symptoms are caused when you consume, are exposed to, or come into proximity with the allergens. In many people, the allergies can bring about skin irritation, rashes, or sneezing while in others the symptoms might be more severe like anaphylaxis which requires urgent medical intervention.
The symptoms of allergy impact the digestive system, nasal gateways, sinuses, etc. The reactions vary depending upon the specific substances that cause allergy :
If you notice a significant reaction just after consuming specific foods without any tangible reason then start keeping a log of this situation. If similar symptoms are prompted every time you eat these foods then you should immediately check with the physician to ascertain if it is the case of food allergy. Some of the common symptoms of food allergy include severe fatigue, swelling, nausea, hives, and other related symptoms.
What are some symptoms of food allergy?
Food allergies prompt various physical reactions like nausea, seeking, extreme fatigue, or hives- among others. Upon noticing any of these symptoms immediately after consuming food, it is advisable to keep a log of this issue. If you notice similar symptoms every time you eat that food, then you need to see a physician.
Seasonal allergies prompt symptoms like eye swelling, runny nose, congestion, or other symptoms very much similar to cold symptoms. In occasional cases, you might need to consult a physician but most of the time such a situation can independently be managed with general medicines that you can get from any chemist’s shop.
Are there any severe symptoms of allergy?
Anaphylaxis is a much-heightened case of allergies where the person loses consciousness and feels light-headed. It also results in severe breathing difficulties when an individual is exposed to the allergen. In such situations, it is extremely important to seek urgent medical assistance without any delay.
Skin allergies are caused when the affected individual comes into contact with the allergens. They may also indicate a sign of an allergy. Food allergic people for an instance can feel mouth and throat tingling, rashes, and related symptoms when they consume the allergy-causing food.
On the other hand, contact dermatitis happens when the skin is exposed to the material that you are allergic to like a plant or a specific cleaning product.
What are some common types of skin allergies?
Some of the general types of skin allergies are:
What are the major causes of allergies?
Till date the research is going on the actual cause behind the allergy but the results are yet to become clear and more specific. The need is to find why the immune system reacts violently to harmless substances. That said the allergies are hereditary that is carried forward by genes.
What are some common allergen?
Here are a few of the general allergen that trigger allergic response in the body:
Drugs like sulfa drugs and Penicillin
Animal products like dust mite waste, pet dander, and cockroaches.
Insect stings like wasps, bees, and mosquitoes.
Foods like nuts, wheat, milk, egg allergies and shellfish
Plants Resin from poison ivy/oak or the pollens from weeds, grass, and trees
What is the best solution to prevent allergies?
Once the person comes into contact with the allergens there are almost zero chances for preventing the symptoms. Hence the best way is to avoid allergens.
In case of food allergies, make sure that you stay away from the food items you are allergic to. One thing to keep n mind is that the packaged food contains many ingredients that we may not know about- including those that you are allergic to. So before buying any such foods it is wise to thoroughly read the ingredients it contains. Likewise, when you eat at your friend’s home or restaurant you should ask if the food contains any allergen. It is best to avoid street food. Also to be on the safer side avoid eating the packaged food that has been produced in the facility where other foods are also produced that you are allergic to.
The allergies caused by non-food allergens like the season or dust/specific particles can be avoided by taking proper care to keep the allergens away. Using reliable air purifiers to keep the dust away can help you to avoid symptoms related to dust allergy. Likewise, taking proper care or administering recommended medicines during the onset of a specific season can help in minimizing the impact of seasonal allergies.
The easiest solution to stay away from allergic reactions is to maintain distance from allergens.
In Immunotherapy several sessions of injections are involved to ease and familiarize your body with the specific allergy. It generally continues over several years and upon successful completion, the body stops reacting seriously to the specific allergens.
Epinephrine is the best medical solution for more serious types of allergies that may be life-threatening. While it does not replace qualified medical help, it does help you to manage the situation on your own for some time until you receive the help.
Can natural supplements mitigate the effects of allergy?
Natural supplements may help in reducing certain types of allergies but they should never be taken before consulting with your physicians as they might not be equally effective for every individual and every type of allergy. Moreover, several supplements may worsen instead of improving the allergy symptoms as these supplements may include other types of allergens.
Dried teas are often marketed as a potent solution for specific allergies but some such teas may contain flowers/herbs related to the same family that allergens belong to. Likewise, topical treatments like natural oils may also contain elements that trigger an unexpected response from your immunity system thus worsening the allergic symptoms.
Besides there are specific natural remedies that can be used to relieve the symptoms caused by specific allergies.
How to get your allergy diagnosed?
Go to doctors and clearly explain the allergy-like symptoms you have noticed along with the substances or surroundings that prompt those symptoms. Depending upon the same the doctors ask you more specific questions to reach a conclusive decision and specific allergens.
After a thorough discussion the doctor will proceed with blood/skin testing to validate their findings with tangible lab evidence.
The blood testing will help the doctor to identify the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) a type of antibody that responds to the allergens.
In the skin testing the skin is scratched with allergen-containing needles and the reaction is recorded. Any changes in the skin like inflammation or reddening confirm the allergy.
What are some complications of allergies?
Many symptoms of allergy cause inconvenience and annoyance but in some cases these symptoms can be very serious and risk your life. Some such symptoms include:
Narrowness in air passageways
Accelerated heart rate
How can allergic symptoms be differentiated from general symptoms?
As already mentioned the symptoms of allergies and cold are very similar and thus it becomes a bit difficult to ascertain if a specific symptom is due to allergy or cold. A few differences can make it easier to differentiate between the two. Unlike a common cold that causes your body to ache or eventually cause fever, the allergic response is generally evident by additional symptoms like skin rashes or eye itching. In the same way, unlike the common case of running nose, the sinus infection causes yellow colored thick substance that is discharged through your nose.
Likewise hay fever is a seasonal allergy where you experience content coughing along with sneezing. However, as opposed to chronic cough the coughing caused by hay fever is prompted only during a specific period of the year. Also, this cough is temporary while chronic cough is a long-time condition.
Bronchitis when caused by bacteria generally gets healed after some days or weeks. Chronics bronchitis the one caused by allergies is more persistent and can also return after some time. Such bronchitis can continue for many months.
What are some topical reactions of allergy?
Here are a few topical reactions of allergy on the skin:
Eczema: Eczema is a skin allergy with inflammatory effects. It causes red itchy rashes that are persistent and takes some time to develop.
Allergic contact dermatitis: This allergy is caused immediately the skin is exposed to the allergen and in more serious cases I can augment the blisters with pain. It may also cause cracking of the affected skin.
In hives the skin develops bumps when it comes into contact with the allergen. They don’t crack on their own but in some cases, the serious itching can cause bleeding.
What is the best treatment for allergy?
As already said keeping a safe distance from the elements and situations the trigger allergy is the best solution for allergy management. Medications help in mitigating the symptoms. For severe allergies or if you wish to get completely rid of allergies you can consider going for injection sessions. However, people with more serious allergic reactions like anaphylaxis must be very careful about keeping a dose of urgent medicine to help them mitigate the unfavorable effects until qualified medical help comes.