Allergies symptoms, causes and treatment

Allergies happen when the immune system responds to various foreign substances like pollen, pet dander, or venom. In some cases, allergy can also be triggered by food that does not cause a reaction for other people.

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Antibodies is a substance that is produced by our immune system. When your body is exposed to a substance that can cause allergy, your immune system will produce antibodies that will tell you it is harmful, though it is not. The common reactions of your immune system can be shown through the skin, airways, sinuses, and digestive system.

The allergy’s severity may be different from one person to another. The effects will also range from minor irritation to a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Most allergies that have been seen from various patients cannot be cured. But some treatments and medicines can be used and prescribed to relieve the symptoms of allergy.

Symptoms of Allergy

The symptoms of allergy come in different ways. It can affect your skin, sinuses, airways, nasal passages, and even your digestive system. With some people, allergy reactions can be very mild to severe. But there are cases where allergy can cause a life-threatening situation. 

Here are some of the most common symptoms of allergy depending on their cause:

Allergic rhinitis or Hay fever:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Swollen, watery, red eyes (conjunctivitis)

Food Allergy:

Insect Sting Allergy:

Drug Allergy:

  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Rash
  • Facial swelling
  • Wheezing cough
  • Anaphylaxis

Atopic dermatitis:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redden
  • Flake or peel
  • Cracked and scaly skin

Causes of Allergy

There are no clear reasons why allergy happens to a person. Researches cannot determine why our immune system causes an allergic reaction to a foreign substance that is harmless to our body. But most of us have accepted the fact that allergy can happen to anyone, and being prepared for it can save your life.

Allergies can be transferred genetically. If your mother has an allergy to a particular substance, there is a high chance that you will have the same allergy as well. 

Many things can cause allergies. But the most common of them are:

  • Animal products – some of them includes dust mite waste, pet dander, and cockroaches
  • Drugs – common drugs that can trigger allergic reactions are sulfa drugs and Penicillin 
  • Foods – the list of foods that can cause allergies is endless. But the most common of them are nuts, shellfish, milk, wheat, and egg
  • Insect stings – getting strung by mosquitos, wasps, and bees can start an allergic reaction
  • Plants – there are pollens from trees, grass, and weeds that can cause an allergic reaction. Resin from plants like poison oak and poison ivy can trigger an allergy as well
  • Other allergens – latex and metals can also be a cause of an allergy, but this is a rare case

Out of all the causes of allergies, the most common is allergy from one or more foods. If you learned that you are allergic to a certain food, you could choose to avoid it if the effect is serious and life-threatening. But if the symptoms are mild such as skin allergy, there are medicines available in the market to ease your allergy symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergies

The best way to determine your allergy is to consult a doctor. During your appointment, your doctor might do the following:

  • Study your medical history. Your doctor will ask about your medical history. He will determine if you have symptoms and known causes of an allergic reaction, do you have a family member who has asthma or allergies like hives, hay fever, and skin rashes.
  • Determine your symptoms. Your doctor will ask you detailed questions about the various signs and symptoms that you have observed after the allergic reaction occurred.
  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Perform allergy tests. 

Some doctors may recommend one or both of these tests to determine the causes of your allergy. These tests can give you an idea of what are the possible allergens that you need to avoid. But you have to be aware that the result is not 100% accurate.

  • Blood tests – a specific amount of blood will be extracted from your body and will be sent to a medical laboratory for testing. The blood testing is commonly referred to as radioallergosorbent test (RAST) or ImmunoCAP testing. 
  • Skin test – this test is done by pricking your skin and exposing it to a small number of proteins that were extracted from the potential allergens. If your immune system reacts to the test, you will see a raised bump on the tested area of your skin.

Treatment of Allergies

There are various ways to treat allergies, and most of them have been proven effective by many people:

  • Avoidance from the allergen – as soon as your doctor determines the causes of allergy, the next step that you should do is avoid them. Whether it is a food allergy or drug allergy, you need to use eating and using them to minimize your reactions. If you need to consult a doctor about other health conditions, inform him about your drug allergy so they can give you alternative medicine.
  • Medications – many medications can reduce the reaction of your immune system and relieve the symptoms. They are medicines that you can get over-the-counter for mild symptoms. But if your allergy can start a life-threatening situation, you must consult your doctor immediately.
  • Immunotherapy – there are severe allergies that cannot be treated with avoidance and medications. If this is your case, your medical provider will suggest allergen immunotherapy for you. With this treatment, you will be given purified allergen extracts through a series of injections. Allergen immunotherapy usually lasts for years.

What are the normal conditions of allergies?

Allergies are normal, and it can occur to anyone. Although it can be life-threatening for other people, allergies can be treated. If you are at risk of anaphylaxis, you can learn to manage this reaction and prepare for the needed steps during this emergency. Most allergies can be avoided if you can discipline yourself. Aside from this, medication and changes with your lifestyle can bring significant help as well. 

For your safety, you must talk with your doctor and discuss your condition. 

Risks of Having Allergies

An allergy may happen to a person at any age. But your allergy risk can be higher due to the following factors:

  • Hereditary – when one of your parents have allergies, there is 30% to 50% possibility that you will inherit the allergy as well. But if both of your parents have allergies, the risk increases to 60% to 80%. 
  • Environment – the environment will play a big factor in the occurrence of your allergy. Though you have acquired your condition from your parents, if the cause is not present in your environment, no reaction will happen. For example, if you are allergic to dust or pollens, you have to make sure that your environment is free from these substances.
  • Upper respiratory tract infections – this condition happens for children under six months through contracting a bacterial or viral infection of the upper respiratory system. If this happens to you or your child, you have a high risk of developing allergic conditions such as asthma.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Some people choose self-medication when it comes to their allergies. But it is not always the best way to deal with this. You have to know when to seek medical attention to serious conditions.

  • When your symptoms cannot be relieved by over-the-counter drugs, then it’s time to call your doctor and ask for this medical advice.
  • If you have started a new medication for a different health condition and you noticed that your body is showing symptoms of allergy, you need to inform the doctor who prescribed the medicine immediately.
  • Though you can feel relieved after the injection of epinephrine in your body, you still need to visit the emergency department to guarantee that your symptoms will never return.
  • If you have a history of a severe allergy attack or symptoms of anaphylaxis, you must call your doctor and set an appointment immediately. The diagnosis and treatment of anaphylaxis could be complicated if you failed to address it earlier. 

When you experience an allergic reaction at home or outdoor, the nest thing that you should do is don’t panic. This will never help your situation and can prevent you from thinking correctly. If you carry your medicine or an epinephrine auto-injector, give yourself a dose right away. If your symptoms don’t get better or relieved after a few minutes, then it’s time to call your doctor and request for medical attention. Allergies cannot bring you to a life-threatening situation if you know how to deal with it properly.