Allergy is a sharp reaction of the body’s immune system to usually harmless substances. Symptoms of an allergy can occur in different parts of the body, lasting from a few minutes to several days and be different in severity. Let’s learn about disease nature and treatment methods!
Types of allergies
There may be an allergy to hair of some animal species, a variety of products, dust, medicines, chemicals, insect bites and pollen. Substances that cause an allergy, are called allergens. In some cases, allergic reactions are so weak that you can not even be aware that you generally suffer from allergies.
But allergies can be also extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. People suffering from allergies may get an anaphylactic shock – a severe pathological condition associated with an extremely sharp reaction to the allergen. Anaphylaxis can be caused by various allergens: drugs, insect bites, food. Also, anaphylactic shock can happen due to skin contact with an allergen, such as latex.
A food allergy is an immune reaction caused by certain foods and accompanied by well-known symptoms. A food allergy occurs when the body mistakenly takes a certain product for a threat to the body and makes the immune system produce antibodies for self-defense. In the case of readmission of the allergen, the immune system quickly “learns” this material and reacts immediately by producing antibodies again. These substances cause allergic symptoms. Food allergy often develops in this way.
In some cases, adults get rid of allergies observed in childhood. But if the allergy manifested itself only in adulthood, it’s very difficult to get rid of it. Allergic rhinitis is observed in 1 case of 10 and is often hereditary. People with other allergic diseases, such as asthma or eczema also often suffer from allergic rhinitis. Such allergies are more common for women than for men. In case of allergic rhinitis we may observe following symptoms: itchy eyes, throat, nose and on the palate, sneezing, and stuffy nose, watery eyes, mucous discharge from the nose, conjunctivitis (redness and pain in the eyes). In severe cases of allergic rhinitis, there may happen an asthma attack (especially people suffering from asthma) and/or eczema.
Causes of allergies
Some people’s immune system reacts sharply to certain substances (allergens), producing a variety of chemicals. One of them, histamine, causes allergic symptoms. The reaction of the body can occur through inhalation, skin contact, administration of allergen or receiving it in food. Animal hair, fluff, dust, foods, cosmetics, medicines, pollen, cigarette smoke are the most popular allergens.
An allergic reaction can occur in different parts of the body, and the symptoms may last from several minutes to several days. Common symptoms include:
- upper respiratory tract: hay fever, asthma;
- bloodshot, watery eyes;
- pain and inflammation of the joints;
- hives, eczema;
- diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset.
Allergy complications may include:
- anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction);
- shortness of breath or wheezing;
- rapid pulse;
- cold sweat;
- clammy skin;
- stomach cramps;
- collapse (acute vascular insufficiency);
In the case of medical care absence, a severe allergy can be fatal.
What can you do?
Mild allergic reactions can cause a runny nose, watery eyes, and other symptoms that resemble the common cold. You may also get a small rash. If you frequently observe such reactions, you should contact your doctor.
Remember, in the case of anaphylactic shock allergy affects the whole body. Anaphylaxis can occur within 15 minutes after exposure to the allergen, so it is necessary to take urgent measures (call an ambulance).
Avoid food, drugs and other substances which you have ever had an allergy for.
All your friends, family, and colleagues should know about your allergy. Always tell the doctors (including dentists, beauticians, etc.) about all your allergies, especially to medications. This applies to both drugs on prescription and non-prescribed drugs. Before taking any medication, read the packaging and instructions carefully.
In milder forms of allergic rhinitis, use decongestant drops or sprays to relieve symptoms. If the allergy is caused by the drug, discontinue its use immediately and consult a doctor.
Take antihistamines (allergy agents), prescribed by the doctor. When receiving antihistamines with a sedative effect, avoid driving and mechanisms control, as they may cause drowsiness. Today, however, there is a number of non-sedating antihistamines. In case of allergic reactions on the skin, use antipruritic cream or lotion to relieve irritation.
How can a doctor help you?
The physician must eliminate the possibility of other diseases and conduct tests for the identification of the allergen and prescribe antihistamines and, if necessary, steroids. If the allergen is identified, but the contact with it is inevitable, the physician should introduce a special vaccine for the prevention and treatment of allergies.
Also, the doctor may recommend a special diet for patients suffering from food allergy.
Try to identify substances that cause your allergies and always avoid them. Make sure that your house is clean and free of dust, lint, and mites. When you sweep, use a vacuum cleaner, knock the dust from furniture, change bedding or any other contacts with dusty objects, cover your nose (use a mask). When you have an allergy to pets, do not keep them in your house.
If you have allergies to medicines, always carry a special card, which indicates what drug you are allergic to. In this case, even if you are unconscious or can not remember the name of the drug, you will be insured by the introduction of the allergen. If you have severe allergies, notify your family and colleagues about it and do not forget to inform the doctors!