What are Allergies?

Allergies are generally a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance. There are various types of allergies like dust allergy, insect allergy, per allergy, skin allergy, food allergy, and more. The symptoms of an allergy vary from one person to another, although the common signs include itching, swelling of the face and mouth, and nasal congestion. Seasonal allergies can cause swollen eyes whereas severe allergies can lead to severe breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, and lightheadedness

 If you suspect you have an allergy, visit a doctor to get an official diagnosis. Read more about allergies in this article.

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Allergies have been around for plenty of years. Certain people are less sensitive to allergens, whereas, some others are more sensitive. An allergic reaction is basically a response from your immune system to foreign substances, commonly referred to as allergens. This allergic reaction is typically caused by allergens such as pollen, foods, etc. Your immune system attacks these foreign substances as it is perceived as a potential harm to your body. Different people may have different allergic reactions to allergens. Depending on the allergen, the symptoms and treatment also vary.

Symptoms of Allergies

The symptoms can vary depending on the type of allergy. Taking medication may help reduce the intensity of these symptoms. Let us have a look at the symptoms of food allergies, seasonal allergies and severe allergies.

  • Food Allergies

If you have food allergies, you can expect to experience symptoms like hives, swelling, fatigue, nausea, etc. It can take you some time to realize that you have a food allergy.

  • Seasonal Allergies

Some of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are runny nose, congestion, swollen eyes, and others. You can manage these symptoms at home with a few available over-the-counter medications. If your allergic reaction gets intolerable, visit your healthcare practitioner.

  • Severe Allergies

Having severe allergies can cause anaphylaxis that can lead to severe breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, and lightheadedness. You have to seek medical help from an allergy specialist immediately in such cases.

Types of Allergies

There are many different types of allergies. Here is a list of them.

  • Drug Allergy -

This occurs in very few people. The side effects caused by a certain drug can result in an allergic reaction.

  • Insect Allergy -

Certain insects like yellow jackets, wasps, bees, etc. cause an allergic reaction in people.

  • Food Allergy -

There are many types of food allergies. People can be allergic to certain foods such as lactose, seafood, etc.

  • Latex Allergy -

This is an allergic reaction developed to natural rubber latex.

  • Pet Allergy -

If you are allergic to pets, it is important to know if your pet is hypoallergenic (allergy-free).

  • Pollen Allergy -

This is a seasonal allergic reaction that many develop. It is also referred to as hay fever.

  • Mold Allergy -

Mold are fungi that grow in many places. It is best to stay away from places that are prone to having mold.

  • Skin Allergy -

Certain people develop allergic reactions on their skin such as rashes when exposed to certain compounds such as dust, pollen, etc.

Causes of Allergies

The exact science behind allergies has still not been understood. Researchers are not particularly sure as to why the immune system responds a certain way to allergens. Allergies can be genetic and can be passed on the hierarchy. However, certain allergies are not passed down.

Here are some common types of allergens.

  • Insect Stings -

Bees, wasps, etc.

  • Mold -

Airborne spores

  • Plants -

Pollen from grass, weed, and trees

  • Animal products -

Pet dander, cockroaches, and dust mite waste.

  • Drugs -

Sulfa drugs, penicillin, etc.

  • Food -

Wheat, milk, nuts, shellfish, egg, etc.

Allergy Treatments

When it comes to treatments of allergies, you could choose any of the available pathways depending on your choice. It is also best to consult an allergy specialist regarding which method could be most effective for you. There are 3 main types of treatments for allergies. Let us have a look at each of them.

1. Medication

You can consume medication to control your allergies. Usually, antihistamines are the medicines used. Allergy medications can include:

  • Corticosteroids

  • Antihistamines

  • Cromolyn sodium

  • Decongestants

  • Cetirizine

  • Loratadine

  • Leukotriene modifiers

2. Immunotherapy

With immunotherapy, you would have to take a few injections over the span of a few years. This way, your body will get used to the allergy.

3. Emergency Epinephrine

In case you have a life-threatening and severe allergy, you can keep an emergency epinephrine shot with yourself.

Natural Remedies for Allergies

There are plenty of natural remedies available for different types of allergies. It is best to discuss with your doctors before moving on to any natural remedies. Some of the common remedies used are

  • Tea leaves -

Tea leaves contain compounds called bioflavonoids that can help reduce allergic responses.

  • Dried plants -

Plants like areca palm, bamboo palm, golden pothos, etc. can help with allergies.

  • Essential oils -

Essential oils such as lavender oil can help soothe your symptoms during times of allergies.

How Are Allergies Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose your allergies in two main ways. The first way of diagnosis is by understanding your symptoms and performing a physical exam. In this method, you will be asked general questions about the food you have eaten, the places you have been to, etc. These questions are asked to identify potential allergens. The second method is by taking a blood test. From this blood test, the doctor can confirm the presence of allergens in your body.

Allergy Blood Test

When you come in contact with allergens, your body produces allergy-causing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). So, when your doctor requests a blood test, your blood will be used to check for this antibody. This blood test will be used by your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and then further suggest an appropriate medical treatment for you. Your allergist can also recommend a skin test in case of a skin allergy. This would involve getting your skin scratched with small needles to test for potential allergens.

Preventing Symptoms

The most efficient way to prevent the symptoms of allergy is to avoid allergens. Avoidance is the best way when it comes to allergies. If you are allergic to certain types of food, make sure that you avoid them. If it so happens that you develop a food allergy by accident, you can search for an “allergist near me” on search engines and get medical help.

Complications of Allergies

With the different seasons that we experience throughout the year, it is natural to develop a cold in response to cold climate, which can further lead to complications. Apart from causing cold, allergies can be life-threatening too. For instance, some allergens may cause increased heart rate, suddenly narrowed airways and possible swelling of the mouth and tongue. These symptoms can create many complications and be life-threatening in some cases. It is advisable to get medical help immediately if you experience any such symptoms.

Asthma and Allergies

Asthma is a respiratory condition in which breathing is difficult due to narrowed air pathways to the lungs. They are closely related to allergies. If you have asthma, allergies can make your condition worse. If you have Asthma, it is best to be extremely careful about allergens to avoid medical complications.

Allergies vs. Cold

Common colds and allergies have common symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. To distinguish between these two, you will have to keep an eye on additional symptoms such as rashes, itchy skin, red eyes, watery eyes, etc. This can help you distinguish and hence, get the right medical treatment.

Allergic Cough

Allergic cough is different from an ordinary cough. It is temporary and may be experienced only during certain times of the year in cases of seasonal allergies. These seasonal allergies can potentially trigger asthma and tighten your airways leading to cough and shortness of breath.

Allergies and Bronchitis

Viruses and bacteria can cause bronchitis. It can also be a result of allergies. Some of the common allergens are:

  • Pollen -

They are usually found in certain areas that have flowers with pollen.

  • Dust -

Dust can be an irritant and cause allergic reactions such as continuous sneezing and watery eyes.

  • Chemical fumes -

Fumes that are produced by industries can be an allergen.

  • Cigarette smoke -

Cigarette smoke is a common irritant that causes people to sneeze, cough and have watery eyes.

  • Air pollution -

Air pollution that is caused by smoke from vehicles, pollutants from factories, etc. can cause an allergic reaction.

Allergies and Babies

Babies usually experience skin allergies on a frequent basis. Usually, babies experience these common skin allergies.

  • Hives -

Hives are itchy, raised welts that are commonly found on the skin.

  • Eczema -

It is a red, itchy, and scaly rash that develops on the skin.

  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis -

This is a skin rash that is typically caused by contact with a particular substance.

Living With Allergies

Allergies are common and can be managed effectively by your allergy specialist. While allergies can be managed, it is best to keep away from allergies as they can sometimes cause severe complications. Most allergies are manageable with a change in lifestyle and consuming the suitable medication.

In a Nutshell

Many people experience allergies. There are different symptoms of allergies experienced depending on the individual and the type of allergy. It is recommended to avoid allergens to stay precautious. In case of any emergency, it is best to contact an allergy expert to get the necessary treatment. While staying away from allergens are important, it can also help to stay precautious by having an active health insurance plan on the Finserv MARKETS platform. 

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