Allergies are problems of the body's immune system. Most allergic reactions happen when
the immune system reacts to a false alarm. Normally the immune system attacks harmful
things such as viruses or bacteria. But sometimes it overreacts and responds to things
that are normally harmless. These include dust, mold, pollen, or food.
Allergens are substances that can be breathed or swallowed, or that come in contact
with the skin. Common allergic reactions, such as hay fever, certain types of asthma,
and food allergies are linked to an antibody made by the body. This antibody is called
immunoglobulin E or IgE. Each IgE antibody targets a certain allergen. When IgE comes
into contact with its target allergen, it triggers the release of several inflammatory
chemicals. These include histamines, cytokines, and leukotrienes. These chemicals then
cause allergy symptoms.
You can be allergic to one type of
allergen, but not another. Allergic reaction symptoms will differ based on the type and
amount of allergen you have come in contact with. It also depends on how your body’s
immune system reacts to that allergen. Symptoms can range from mild itching or runny
nose to a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
most common allergens are:
Allergies can affect anyone, at any age. Often allergies are more common in children.
But a first-time event can happen at any age, or come back after many years of
Allergies often run in families. But the exact family links that cause allergies aren’t
yet understood. In sensitive people, things such as hormones, stress, smoke, perfume, or
other environmental irritants may also play a role. Allergy symptoms often grow slowly
may become used to constant symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, or wheezing.
You may not think that the symptoms are abnormal. But these symptoms can often be
stopped or controlled with the help of a doctor who specializes in treating allergies
(allergist). And you can have a better quality of life.
allergic reaction can happen anywhere in the body. This includes the skin, eyes, stomach
lining, nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs. These are the places where immune system cells
are found to fight off germs that are breathed in, swallowed, or come in contact with
the skin. Allergic reactions can cause these symptoms:
The symptoms of allergy sometimes look like other conditions or health problems. Always
see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
diagnose an allergy, your healthcare provider will give you an exam and review your
health history. He or she may also do these tests:
See your healthcare provider about any positive test result. He or
she can tell you about the tests and knows your health history.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) and medicine are effective ways treat allergies.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are used to treat people who have hay fever (allergic
rhinitis), conjunctivitis, or asthma. They are also used for people with a stinging
insect allergy (bee venom allergy). A mixture of the many allergens to which you are
allergic is made. It is injected into your arm on a weekly basis until a maximum dose
is reached. Then the number of injections is decreased over time.
Most people get better with allergy shots. It often takes about 12 to 18 months
before you notice a clear reduction in symptoms. Some people see improvement in 6 to
Allergy shots are only part of the treatment plan for people with allergies. It
takes time for allergy shots to become effective. So you will need to stay on the
allergy medicines as prescribed by your healthcare provider. It is also important to
keep allergens (such as dust mites) under control in your surroundings.
newer type of immunotherapy is called SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy). It can be
taken by mouth daily at home. It is an effective alternative to allergy shots. But it
is currently only available for a few allergens.
For people who suffer from allergies, there are many medicines that work well. Nasal
sprays work to decrease nasal congestion, stuffiness, and post nasal drip.
Antihistamines are helpful for itchiness and hives. Decongestants are used to treat
stuffiness in the nose and other symptoms linked to colds and allergies. But overuse
of decongestants can be linked to rebound congestion or high blood pressure. Using
medicines for asthma or allergy breathing symptoms is tailored for each person based
on the severity of the symptoms.
Talk with your healthcare provider for more information about allergy medicines.
Anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis can happen in extreme cases. Anaphylaxis is a
serious, life-threatening reaction to certain allergens. Body tissues may swell,
including tissues in the throat. It can also cause a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Anaphylaxis symptoms include:
Anaphylaxis can be caused by an allergic reaction to a medicine, food, serum, bug
venom, allergen extract, or chemical. Pollen, pets, dust, and mold allergies are
unlikely to cause anaphylaxis. Some people who are aware of their allergic reactions or
allergens carry epinephrine autoinjectors. This medicine can be used to treat severe
allergic reaction. It can also prevent anaphylactic shock from foods, stinging insects,
and other allergens. It does this by improving circulation, contracting blood vessels,
and opening up the airways in the lungs. It also increases the rate and force of the
Staying away from allergens is a very effective way to treat allergies. Tips for
avoiding allergens include:
Your healthcare provider will also have suggestions for staying away from the allergens
that cause reactions.
to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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