Allergies – A Detailed Overview

allergies

Allergies are the response of our body’s immune system to some foreign substance like pollen or dust. This chemical is normally harmless, but it causes the body’s immune system to react by displaying various signs and symptoms.

The immune system of the human body is efficient in protecting the body against foreign particles. When it senses danger, it produces antibodies to fight this foreign substance. As a result of the immune system’s reaction, various symptoms such as sneezing, rashes, and itching occur.

Allergies are common, and their symptoms and severity vary from person to person. In some cases, symptoms are mild, but some lead to life-threatening conditions like anaphylaxis. Allergies cannot be cured, but several treatments can help you relieve the symptoms.

Symptoms of allergies

Symptoms of allergies depend upon the type and its severity. Even if you take certain medications before allergy, you may still face some symptoms.

Seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies like hay fever which is also known as allergic rhinitis can cause runny nose, chest congestion, swollen eyes, stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Immediately see your doctor if your symptoms are uncontrolled.

Food allergies

Food allergies may cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, swelling of lips, or even the face. If you experience any symptoms – immediately talk to your doctor. Food allergies sometimes take time for individuals to understand that they actually have them.

Sting allergy

An insect bite may also cause allergic reactions in individuals. It includes red spots around the sting site, itching, cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Drug allergy

Certain drugs may also trigger allergic reactions like itchy skin, rashes, swelling of the face, wheezing, and hives.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is life-threatening. It may occur due to an allergen, including food or an insect sting. It leads to unconsciousness, skin rashes, gasping, weak pulses, drop in BP, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, immediately see your doctor.

Skin allergies

Skin allergies occur when you accidentally come into contact with an allergen. It can be a chemical or any other substance. It causes different symptoms like rashes on the skin, sore throat, eczema, hives, red patches on the skin, itching, burning sensation, discomfort, puffy eyes, and inflammation of the skin.

Causes of allergies

It is yet unknown why the immune system causes allergic responses. These allergies usually have a genetic basis. It means parents can transfer them to their children. But specific types of allergies do not pass down from parents to their children like if your father is allergic to a specific type of food that doesn’t mean you will get this too. Common causes of allergies include:

Foods like fish, eggs, milk, nuts, wheat, and soy products

Airborne allergens like dust, spores, pollen, mites, molds, and pet dander.

Insect stings like bees and wasps.

Medications like penicillin-based antibiotics may also trigger allergic reactions in individuals.

Other allergens include metals, latex products, and resins from plants. It triggers various symptoms when a person comes into contact with any of these substances.

Diagnosis of allergies

Allergies are diagnosed in different ways. First, your doctor may ask you a few questions about the signs and symptoms of allergies. They may perform a physical examination test to see any changes in your body. Lastly, a blood test or skin test is prescribed to confirm the allergens your doctor suspects.

Blood test

A blood test is ordered to check the allergy-causing antibodies in the blood. These allergy-causing antibodies are knowns as immunoglobulin. This blood test is sent to a laboratory to be tested for allergy sensitivity.

Skin test

During a skin test, your doctor may prick or scratch your skin and expose it to a small number of allergens. If you are sensitive to this allergen, a red patch, rash, or inflammation will occur at the test site. This reaction is documented for further analysis and recommendations.

Treatment of allergies

It is good to avoid the specific allergens that trigger allergenic reactions in you. If this is not possible, such as in the case of airborne allergies, there are numerous treatment alternatives available to ease the symptoms.

Medications

Your doctor will prescribe you various medications to control the symptoms of allergies. This may include over-the-counter or prescription medicines. The type of medications depends upon the severity of the allergy. It can be in form of pills, capsules, nasal sprays, creams, and liquids.

Immunotherapy

Many people prefer to undergo immunotherapy. It includes several injections over many years to make the body get used to the allergen. Immunotherapy sessions may benefit some, while some may still experience the symptoms.

Emergency epinephrine

It is best to keep an emergency epinephrine shot on hand at all times, especially if you have severe allergic responses. This shot will help you overcome the severity of the reactions until you get emergency medical treatment.

Natural remedies and allergies

Several products claim to treat allergies. Many home remedies are also good to treat various types of allergies. It is good to discuss everything with your doctor before using the supplements or medicines. These remedies or treatments can contain other allergens that may make the symptoms even worst in individuals.

For example, some people make use of several types of herbal teas for allergies. But the flowers or the plant itself can cause allergic reactions in you. It may make the symptoms worse than before.

If a particular home remedy is working for you, that doesn’t mean it will work for another person with the same allergy. That is why it is important to consult with your doctor before taking any product, natural or synthetic.

However, the common natural or home remedies that usually work for anyone include:

Use of saltwater: A solution of water and salt is used for sinus congestion. Neti pots are used to flush out the mucous and improve breathing. Be careful while using these nasal irrigation devices or neti pots as they may cause infection.

Avoid exposure to airborne allergens: You can avoid exposure to airborne allergens at home like dust, pet dander, and pollens by wearing a mask. Wash your beddings and vacuum clean the carpets with fine filters. You can also remove carpets to avoid trapped dust, pollens, spores, and pet dander.

Use dehumidifiers: For mold allergies – make use of dehumidifiers at home. Ventilate damp places like bathrooms in the home.

Ease symptoms with natural teas: To reduce the symptoms of sneezing, coughing, and congestion, drink herbal teas as directed by your doctor. Make use of ginger, cloves, fennels seeds, cinnamon, and black cardamom in your teas. Make sure you are not allergic to any of these foods.

Prevention

It is not possible to treat the allergies completely. To avoid them, you must make lifestyle adjustments. It is good to avoid the allergens as much as possible.

If you are sensitive to particular foods, read the labels before purchasing certain products. Avoid consuming foods that make you uncomfortable or trigger allergic reactions in you.

If you are allergic to dust, you can use air filters at home to purify the air. Keep your home clean.

Replace your carpets with hard floors. Before cleaning or dusting your house – put on a mask.

Avoid going to the places which are more likely to have these allergens, like gardens, parks, and other sites with greenery that may contain a high pollen count than others.

Takeaway

Allergies are common and do not cause life-threatening consequences except anaphylaxis. People with anaphylaxis must know how to manage their condition before receiving emergency medical help.

Allergies cannot be treated completely. You must learn to live with these allergies. However, you can adopt several lifestyle changes, medications, and natural remedies to relieve the symptoms of allergies.

Talk to your doctor and ask about the possible complications and avoidance methods to ease your life.

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