All about allergies
Odd it may seem – dust, peanuts, cats, shellfish, nickel – they have something in common: allergies! Learn basic information about allergies to ease your discomfort and inconvenience – and even save your life.
An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to a substance that usually does not have any effect to other people. This specific allergen triggers the signs and symptoms that can border from being simply annoying or highly dangerous for the person.
How does the immune system react to allergens?
The immune system of a person who has an allergy produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) that signals the mast cells and basophils (allergy cells in the body) to “defend” the body against the allergen by releasing chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream. When this happens, a person experiences uncomfortable body reactions in order to eliminate the allergen from its system.
Who can get an allergy?
It is a hereditary thing – usually passed on from parents to children.
Then again, a person can develop allergic reactions even if he or she did not inherit it from any of his or her parents. Since synthetic chemicals have been on the rise in our present generation, our immune system has been increasingly sensitive to most of it.
What are the most common causes of allergies?
The most common sources of allergies are grouped in the following:
- Food. Milk, eggs, nut, fish, and soy are just some of food items that can trigger allergic reactions to certain individuals.
- Season. Spring allergies are the worst offenders, due to the abundance of pollen in the air.
- Pets. For someone living in a country where most people own a dog or a cat, pet dander – usually worse for older animals – is a serious issue.
- Other sources. Medicine such as penicillin, metals such as nickel, cosmetics, pillow covers, and even the sun.
What are the main symptoms of allergies?
The most common symptoms are:
- runny nose
- itchy, watery eyes
- skin rashes (dermatitis)
- hives (a rash with raised red patches)
- feeling tired or ill
Exposure to different causes of allergies can lead to different level of symptoms.
- It may seem mild or unnoticeable although you might feel a little under the weather.
- It can be moderate, making you feel ill or uncomfortable.
- It can be severe to the extent of incapacitating you.
Can a person outgrow an allergy?
It does not work that way. People actually grow into it, not out of it. While some people eventually do not show any allergic reactions to specific allergens after long periods of not being exposed to it, others might still experience it later in life.
Can a person develop an allergy later in life?
Allergies can happen even if a person is already an adult when he or she first experienced it. Usually, the symptoms show during the late teen years.
What is the best treatment for allergies?
Avoid the allergen and your body will have nothing to worry about. Allergen avoidance is possible through proper diagnosis and education.