About allergy (allergies)

What is allergy (allergies)?

Allergies are reactions of the immune system to any foreign particle that enters the body. The immune system plays a vital role in protecting the body from infections. The production of antibodies to counter the antigens of the pathogen triggers a reaction causing the release of eosinophils. This leads to the inflammation of the skin, itching, and even red rashes. But, when the immune system mistakes any other particle as a harmful pathogen, it leads to a condition known as allergy (allergies). The allergen or the foreign particle that triggers this reaction can be pollens or dust. Some people are also allergic to certain food or animal dander. Once these enter the body, the immune system gets activated thinking that some infectious pathogen has entered. The immune system releases white blood cells that have eosinophils to counter the allergen. People suffering from allergies usually undergo the symptoms when their allergic cause is present. People who are allergic to the pollens of specific plants or flowers will suffer from allergies during the seasons where those flowers bloom.



What are the symptoms for allergy (allergies)?

There are various elements that can become allergens for a person. And, depending on which type of allergy(allergies) the person suffers from, the symptoms greatly vary. The basic cause for these symptoms remains the immune system and its hyperactive mechanism. Hence, some of the symptoms like Swelling and itching, or symptoms similar to the common cold, remain the same. 

Hay Fever

·        Sneezing

·        Itching felt on the nose or even on the roof of the mouth

·        Runny nose that feels like it is blocked

·        Eyes that are watering and swollen

 

Food Allergy

·        SHives

·        Swelling of lips, throat, or tongue

·        Swelling of the face

·        Suffocating due to anaphylaxis

 

Drug allergy

·        Hives

·        Swelling of face

·        Wheezing

·        Rashes on skin

·        Anaphylaxis

 

 



What are the causes for allergy (allergies)?

An allergy (allergies) is usually genetic and parents often pass down this trait to their offspring. Pollens, animal fur or dander, or even dust mites are very common and found everywhere. But, the main cause of such genetic conditions is not known as yet. The allergic reaction arises from a person’s immune system reacting to substances that are generally harmless but can trigger the white blood cells to counter these particles. When a particle that is determined as an allergen enters the person’s body, it prompts the formation of antibodies, specifically immunoglobin E or IgE. this immunoglobin E then binds to the mast cells that send signals to the brain and the symptoms that are seen get triggered. For people suffering from a food allergy, it is due to the confusion created in the brain of that person as the food contains some chemical that resembles the pollens of specific plants. Some common allergens are:

·        Pet dander

·        Dust mite waste

·        Penicillin

·        Nuts

·        Wheat

·        Soy

·        Eggs

·        Shellfish

·        Pollens from oak

·        Pollens from poison ivy

·        Sulfa drugs

·        Mold spores

·        Bee sting

 



What are the treatments for allergy (allergies)?

Allergy (allergies) is usually treated with medications that counter the effects of the immune system within the body. This includes countering the swelling and the itching. There is no permanent cure for allergies. People who suffer from allergies continue to do so, but there are some rare instances when the person shows no signs of allergic reactions even when they are exposed to that specific allergen. The main treatment, apart from medications, lies in taking preventive measures to ensure the person is not exposed to those allergens. These preventive measures include:

 

Avoid coming in contact with known allergens. Often the diagnosis can help understand what causes the allergic reactions. Once that is known, it becomes easy to stay away from them. For example, if a person is known to be allergic to certain pollens, they can use masks and keep the room guarded when the season for pollination of that plant comes. Keep medications handy. People who suffer from severe allergic reactions should always keep their medications handy. Stay clean and change clothes immediately after returning home.



What are the risk factors for allergy (allergies)?

Allergy (allergies) symptoms vary from person to person and the same ambiguity is present for the risk factors associated with an allergic reaction. Since it is a genetic condition and can be inherited, people whose parents are allergic to certain things might pass on that allergic tendency but it does not necessarily have to be the same allergen. The risks associated with allergies can range from mild to life-threatening. Milder reactions require no specific attention apart from oral medications. For severe cases, a mix of immunotherapy and medications is often prescribed. In case of life-threatening conditions such as Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, hospitalization is required to save the person. Allergies also give rise to asthma and other respiratory conditions. This further requires specific treatments so that the condition does not aggravate. Another condition that poses a certain amount of risk is the development of sinusitis and infections that affect the ears.



Is there a cure/medications for allergy (allergies)?

As of now, there is no permanent cure for allergy (allergies) and people suffering from the same have to rely on medications and preventive measures to avoid triggering or controlling the symptoms. Diagnosis of the cause of allergies is determined and medications are suggested accordingly. The skin test determines the particular allergen, and the blood test determines the level of antibodies present in the system when allergens enter. The medications suggested are:

·        Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

·        Corticosteroids

·        Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

·        Loratadine (Claritin)

·        Cromolyn sodium (Gastrocrom)

·        Decongestants (Afrin, Suphedrine PE, Sudafed)

·        Leukotriene modifiers (Singulair, Zyflo)

 

Another way to deal with severe allergies is immunotherapy. A course involving injection doses or sublingual tablets made from purified allergen extracts to help the body get adjusted to the presence of the allergens. This helps the symptoms to become milder.

Emergency epinephrine shots like Auvi-Q, EpiPen are also used to treat severe forms of allergies.



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