Allergy is an exaggerated response of the immune system to substances which is normally considered as harmless. A foreign body that reaches the system is termed as an allergen – an antigen that causes stimulation of the antibody which fights it off. Normally, these antibodies fights viruses and bacteria but in allergic reactions it responds to the non-harmful substance excessively. Allergic reactions can range from mild sneezing to a fatal anaphylactic shock.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Allergy
- Runny Nose
- Frequent Sneezing
- Red, itchy and watery eyes
- Itchy skin
These are some common signs and symptoms of allergy but it still depends on the area affected or intruded by the allergen.
Common Causes of allergies include:
Common causes of food allergy are sea foods like crabs, clams, shrimps and oysters. Peanuts, milk, soy, eggs and wheat can also cause allergies because of their high protein content which increases the immune response thus causing allergic reactions. Symptoms may include itching and swelling of lips, mouth, tongue and throat, dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating and light headedness.
The most common cause of animal allergies among humans is cat and dog fur. These dander travels through the air and reaches the nasal cavity of humans, this will activate the release of the antibodies to fight it off and get it out of the system thus causing the sneezing reflex in an attempt to take it out. Other symptoms include runny and itchy nose, itchy and red eyes and coughing.
Insect stings from wasps, bees and ants are one of the most fatal allergies because it targets the blood circulation and it can easily spread to all parts of the body. Individuals with known allergies to these insects should carry around a medical alert bracelet because apparently, many victims die due to anaphylactic reaction because it is not that easily diagnosed. If you are carrying around a notice that you have that kind of allergy, your life can be saved immediately. Symptoms include swelling of the affected part, itching, rashes and difficulty or shortness of breathing.
Some people might exclaim that they are allergic to flowers, well in reality it’s the pollen within the flowers that they are allergic to. Pollens from flowers and dust particles cause the same reaction and symptoms when it is inhaled. Frequent sneezing is one of the most common symptoms of it coupled with runny nose, light headedness and difficulty of breathing.
Penicillin, Aspirin and other steroids or protein binding medicine can also cause allergic reactions such as rashes and generalized itching of the skin. To prevent this kind of reaction, medications especially those that are administered intravenously, intramuscularly and subcutaneously should first undergo skin testing so as to know if the individual is allergic with it or not.
Tips for Preventing Allergies
Allergies can be easily prevented by avoiding any type of exposure to the allergen, may it be touching, eating or inhaling it. One should also take note of the allergies that he has to prevent further exposure. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace all the time can also help for you don’t know when the extreme attack of allergy will strike so you better bring it with you so that when the time you are exposed and is in a severe condition, the medical personnel will easily know what to do.
Treatment Options Advised by Experts
Remedies for allergies include medications such as antihistamines, steroids and epinephrine. Antihistamine helps by blocking the histamine which activates the sensory nerve terminals that causes itchiness. It also triggers the inflammatory response of the body which releases the fighter cells which causes the allergic reaction to the allergen. The drug should not be taken when driving or during the day because it induces sleep however, some brands like Claritin offer a non-drowse relief.
Steroids can be taken orally or through injections so it can reach the body and act on and reduce the inflammation to the cells that are attacked by the chemicals which are released during the reaction. It is also available in nasal inhalations to widen airway and promote breathing. Topical steroids are also available to relieve itching of the skin.
Epinephrine is used in extreme and emergency cases such as anaphylactic shocks. Anaphylactic shock is the body’s extreme response to the allergen which causes life threatening condition such as narrowing of the airway, drop in blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
Desensitization is also one of the effective treatments that can cure the allergy. It is the gradual and repeated exposure to the allergen so the body will be trained to tolerate the allergen without producing any reaction. A vial which contains a dose of allergen will be injected to the individual and increase the dose until the body can tolerate the allergen. Physicians would suggest the individual to take antihistamine prior to the administration so that there will be lesser reaction and discomfort. The treatment usually last for four to six months on a regular basis and interval afterwards a protection for 5 years or more is expected from the therapy.
Ice packs can also relieve and soothe itchy skin and it can also decrease swelling especially those that are caused by insect stings.
Things to do in Extreme Cases
In extreme cases such as anaphylactic shock, the victim should be immediately brought to the emergency room so proper treatment can be given. It includes the administration of epinephrine intravenously so that it can act immediately especially in the airway thus promoting breathing. It also acts to increase cardiac output and peripheral resistance thus preventing cardiac arrest. Intravenous administration is only recommended during life threatening conditions, if it’s just moderate reaction intramuscular or subcutaneous administration of epinephrine is recommended.