It is easy to say that you are allergic to something but do you know what is allergy and why it is caused? Allergies are not common as only a few people are allergic to something. This is because the body reacts to something that it considers as a foreign substance or allergens. The most common allergens are pollen, food, lactose, or pet dander. These allergens are not harmful but your body perceives them as an outside invader and then reacts in the form of allergies. This is an autoimmune response that is taken to safeguard you against harmful pathogens. These responses include sneezing, inflammation, rashes, itching, etc. depending upon the allergen.
What are the initial signs and symptoms of allergies?
There cannot be a fixed set of symptoms of allergies as it depends on certain factors. These include the type of allergen and severity of the allergy. Different allergens get a different reaction from the immune system. Also, if a person is severely allergic, the symptoms would be quicker and worse. In some cases, people can experience the symptoms even if they take allergy medicine after sensing the reaction.
Symptoms of food allergies
There are several foods that cause allergies for example- nut allergy, peanut allergy, lactose allergy, etc. However, allergy isn’t limited to these foods as people can get allergic to many foods. Some people know what they are allergic to whereas some people have no clue about it as they don’t get noticeable symptoms. The common symptoms of a food allergy are nausea, fatigue, hives, swelling, etc. If you ever face any such symptom after eating something, you must get yourself tested for an allergy.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Have you ever gotten cold and fever as the season changes? This is an indication of seasonal allergies. Hay fever is a common seasonal allergic reaction that exhibits signs of a cold. The other symptoms include a runny nose, congestion and swollen eyes. If you know you have a seasonal allergy, you must consume OTC medicine.
Symptoms of severe allergies
While the aforesaid symptoms are common and less harmful, the signs of severe allergies can be really threatening. Anaphylaxis is a common risk with severe allergies. This condition causes lightheadedness, dizziness, loss of consciousness and breathing difficulties. This can happen with any allergen if you are severely allergic to it. A person would need to see a doctor immediately to relieve the discomfort.
Symptoms of skin allergies
If you get exposed to an allergen or your skin comes in direct contact with an allergen, skin allergies can occur. However, other allergies can also cause symptoms on the skin. Throat pain, tingling in the mouth, skin rash, inflammation and redness on the skin are some common signs of allergic reaction on the skin. Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that is specifically for skin allergies. If you happen to touch anything that you might be allergic to or that your body considers as a foreign object, your skin will showcase signs of allergy. Find below a list of types of skin allergies:
- Rashes- Some areas of the skin become red and look swollen, irritated, itchy and painful
- Eczema- This is a skin condition where the skin looks inflamed and may bleed
- Contact dermatitis- the skin suddenly becomes red, inflamed and itchy after coming in direct contact with an allergen
- Hives- You develop welts of different shapes and sizes. These are swollen, red and itchy
- Burning sensations- The skin suffers inflammation and causes a stinging sensation
- Swollen eyes- Your eyes may swell after you come in contact with an allergen
What causes allergies?
There is no exact cause why allergies occur or why our immune system sees something like an outside invader when they are completely harmless. Researchers are trying their best to find the exact cause but no success as of now.
Also, allergies can be hereditary. If a parent has an allergy, the child may also get it. This doesn’t mean that a child would certainly get an allergy from his parents as some allergies cannot be passed. This is particularly for food allergies.
How many types of allergens are there?
Talking about the different types, it depends on the allergen and how severely it reacts. We have listed down all the possible allergens and allergies associated with them. Check them out:
- Plant allergens- Tree and grass pollen, plant resins like poison ivy, etc. are common plant allergens
- Food allergens- Nuts, milk, egg, wheat and shellfish allergens are the most common
- Animal product allergens- A lot of people are allergic to cockroaches, dust mite waste and pet dander
- Insect stings- Mosquitoes, bees and wasps are common insect allergens
- Mold allergens from airborne spores
How allergies are diagnosed?
Apart from noticing the symptoms of allergy upon coming in contact with the allergen, there are many other ways to diagnose your allergy through medical tests. To diagnose, the doctor would first ask you if you have consumed something unusual recently after which you got the symptoms or you came in contact with something.
To find if you are allergic to something, the doctor would conduct a blood test. The blood test would identify antibodies or immunoglobulin E that are formed after the allergy attack. If you have an allergy, these cells would be present in your blood.
You may go to an allergist to get tested for an allergy. Skin test helps in finding out about the allergen. In this test, your skin is made to come in contact with a potential allergen. If you are allergic, your skin would become inflamed, red or rashes may appear.
How are allergies treated?
Depending upon the allergy, its symptoms and severity, treatment is provided. If you can prevent yourself from coming in direct contact with the allergen, you can stay away from them. Avoiding exposure and contact with the allergen is probably the easiest treatment option. Find below other treatment options for allergies.
Another easiest way to treat allergies is by taking medicine. The doctor may prescribe you the best medicine for your allergy and symptoms. Most commonly, antihistamines are prescribed as they can potentially control allergic reaction. Never take any medicine without consultation as it could cause severe complications.
People who have severe allergies or who are extremely sensitive may opt for immunotherapy. This therapy includes injections that are given for a certain time period so that the body gets used to it and don’t react to it any longer. These have a good success rate.
For life-threatening allergies that cause anaphylaxis-like conditions, epinephrine shot can be given as an emergency dose. This helps in controlling the situation until proper medical aid is administered.
NOTE: If you are allergic to something, keep medicines with you 24*7 to prevent any mishappening. You can opt for various natural remedies to relieve your situation only if they are certified or your doctor allows you to do so. Do proper research before experimenting with anything.