What Causes Allergies: Risk Factor, Complications, Preventive Tips

Allergies are caused by your body's immune reaction to what it sees as foreign objects

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahUpdated at: Sep 07, 2021 19:16 IST
What Causes Allergies: Risk Factor, Complications, Preventive Tips

A rash, runny nose, or constant sneezing- these are some of the probable symptoms of allergies. Many of us get allergic reactions from things generally unharmful, such as dust, pollen, some foods, or even sunlight. But have you ever wondered what an allergy really is and why such things trigger such a reaction in some people, while others remain unaffected? To get answers to these questions, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Madhu Nahar Roy, Director, Internal medicine at Paras Hospitals, Udaipur. She explained that allergies are basically the body’s immune response to what it sees as foreign objects. So, if it’s an immune response, why do the immune systems of some people react this way while others’ do not? 

Risk Factors Behind Allergies

Dr Roy explained that there are certain risk factors because of which some people are more prone to getting allergies than others. These are:

  • Genes: It can be hereditary, which means if allergy runs in your family, you might be at risk of getting it.
  • Immunity: Some get hypersensitivity reactions like IgE mediated. IgE, which is short for Immunoglobulin E, is the antibody your body produces when faced with a perceived threat.

Main Body Parts That Get Affected By Allergies

Allergies generally affect nose, skin, throat and eyes

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

The eyes, nose, skin, and throat are the main body parts that get affected by an allergic reaction. For example:

  • Nose allergy: Sneezing and watering nose
  • Eyes allergy: Burning eyes, red eyes, watering, and itching
  • Throat Allergy: Sore throat, itching, pain in the throat
  • Lung Allergy: Cough and breathlessness
  • Skin Allergy: Different types of rashes and hives

In some cases, the reaction can cause severe complications. Such as an anaphylactic shock or Angioedema. An anaphylactic shock is a rare but severe allergic reaction, marked by swelling of the mouth, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, among others. If left untreated, it can lead to death. In the case of angioedema, there is swelling beneath the skin due to fluid accumulation. 

Preventive Tips For Allergies

When you know you are allergic to a particular thing, stay away from that, said Dr Roy. If not possible, such as in the case of dust allergy, limit your exposure to the minimum. For example, if you know you are allergic to peanuts, make sure what you are eating doesn’t contain them. 

Also read: Intolerance or Allergy: How to Tell the Difference?

When Should You See A Doctor

If your allergic symptoms worsen, you need to see a doctor

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

When the allergic reaction displays some alarming signals, you know it is time to see an expert, Dr Roy said. Such symptoms are

  • If you have swelling over your lips, tongue, or eyes.
  • If you get skin rashes or hives.
  • If you have difficulty in breathing.
  • If you are sweating excessively or have a headache

Although they might seem insignificant, allergic reactions can have a massive impact on a person’s life. Not only can it hamper his/her normal functioning, in extreme cases, but it can also put his/her life at risk. What is needed is precautions to not trigger such a reaction in the first place and consult a good medical practitioner as soon as possible if that happens.

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