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All about Allergy

What is Allergy?

Allergies refer to a condition when your body-immune system reacts abnormally due to the presence of foreign substances called allergens. The most common allergens which trigger allergic reactions in people are pollen, bee venom, and pet dander, but some people are also allergic to some foods and medications.

Main Types & Causes of Allergies

Allergies can be of many types and exist in many different forms. One’s suffering from Allergy also varies as many allergies are seasonal; on the other hand, some are yearly, and few are lifelong.

Following are some common types of allergies:

  • Drug Allergy – when your immune system reacts abnormally to a specific medication
  • Food Allergy – An unpleasant or sometimes dangerous immune system reaction that occurs after consuming certain food items
  • Allergic Asthma – When the same substance triggers both allergy symptoms and asthma
  • Seasonal Allergy – an allergic reaction caused by mostly pollens. Many call it ‘Hay fever.’ but by experts, it’s referred to as “seasonal allergic rhinitis.”
  • Insect allergy – stinging insects like bees, hornets, fire ants, wasps etc., can cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, non-stinging insects like cockroaches and dust mites can also cause year-round allergies and asthma
  • Latex Allergy – an allergy caused by specific proteins in natural rubber latex, like gloves, condoms, balloons etc. It can be a severe health risk sometimes
  • Mould Allergy Мега Онион abnormal allergic reaction caused by mould spores
  • Pet or animal Allergy – an abnormal immune reaction caused due to animal’s fur, skin cells, saliva or urine.
  • Anaphylaxis- a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction

The common Signs and Symptoms of Allergies

Depending on the allergens, the allergy symptoms vary from type to type.

Allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) is associated with the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Tearing eyes

An allergic food reaction can also share some of the above symptoms, with the following:

  • Eczema, hives or itchy skin
  • Nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis, when a narrowing of the airways in the lungs makes it difficult or even sometimes impossible to breathe, can be life-threatening

A skin allergy or insect bite can cause the following symptoms at the site:

  • Redness
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Pain

The symptoms of a drug allergy can be:

  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the face or throat
  • Light-headedness
  • Vomiting

What causes Allergies?

Allergic reactions can occur from anything your body sees as a ‘harmful invader’, but you come into contact with them. Generally, our body starts making antibodies to fight them, releasing histamines which end up causing allergy symptoms in the body. Some of the harmless substances that commonly cause allergies are mould, dust, foods, pollen, latex etc.

Many times, allergies tend to pass genetically. So, if your family history includes allergies, then you are more at risk.

What are the main risk factors for Allergy?

Chances of developing an allergy more if one:

  • Have a family history of asthma or allergies
  • is a newborn or child
  • Already have an allergic condition or asthma

What is the diagnosis of allergies?

Generally, doctors diagnose allergies following these three steps:

  • Reviewing your personal and medical history
  • Physical Exam- where your doctor may suggest an X-ray or a lung function test
  • Specific tests like skin tests, patch tests or blood tests to determine your allergen

How to treat allergies?

If you are developing a symptom, it is ideal to visit a physician to review it. Treatment is dependent upon your medical history, the result of the allergy tests and the severity of your symptoms.

You can help your doctor in diagnosing properly by keeping a record of your symptoms, such as when they started and how they got triggered.

The basic three treatments are:

  • Avoid allergens
  • Medications provided by doctors
  • Immunotherapy

What are the complications one may experience due to Allergy?

Having an allergy higher the risk of other medical problems, which include:

  • Anaphylaxis, which is a serious and life-threatening allergy-induced reaction. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by foods, medications or insect stings.
  • Sinusitis and infections of the ears or lungs.Your risk of getting sinusitis is more if you already suffer from asthma or hay fever.
  • Asthma, an immune system reaction that affects the airways and breathing, can be developed due to exposure to an allergen present in the environment (allergy-induced asthma)

Living with Allergy

  • Know and avoid your allergens
  • Visit a doctor immediately if symptom occurs
  • Take all prescribed medicine and keep them with yourself
  • If you are at risk of anaphylaxis, keep your auto-injectors with you at all times
  • Keep a diary to track your activities to identify what triggers the reaction

Whom to contact?

Visit a physician, followed by a doctor who specialises in treating allergies (allergists), if needed.

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