Allergies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Allergies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments we should all know. In addition, allergies are hypersensitive immune responses to substances that come into or have come into contact with the body, such as pet dander, pollen, or bee venom. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an “allergen”. Allergens can be found in food, drinks or the environment. Most allergens are harmless, meaning most people are not affected by them.

If you are allergic to a substance, such as pollen, your immune system reacts to it as if it were a pathogen (a harmful foreign substance) and tries to destroy it. Allergies are very common. Public health officials estimate that about 20% of people in America suffer from some degree of hay fever ( allergic rhinitis , pollen allergy).

Main Symptoms of Allergies:  When a person with an allergy comes into contact with an allergen, the allergic reaction is not immediate. The immune system gradually increases sensitivity to the substance before overreacting.

The immune system needs time to recognize and remember the allergen. As it becomes sensitive to this, it starts producing antibodies to attack it – this process is called sensitization. Sensitization can take from a few days to several years. In many cases, the sensitization process is not complete and the patient experiences some symptoms, but never a total allergy.

When the immune system reacts to an allergen, there is inflammation and irritation. Signs and symptoms depend on the type of allergen. Allergic reactions can occur in the intestines (digestive system), skin, sinuses, airway, eyes and nasal passages.

Dust and Pollen Allergies May Have the Following Symptoms:

  • Stuffy nose
  • itchy eyes
  • itchy nose
  • coryza
  • Swollen eyes
  • Teary eyed
  • cough _

Skin Reactions, As In Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) May Include:

  • peeling the skin
  • itchy skin
  • skin peeling
  • Red skin, rash.

Food allergies can include several types of reactions:

  • vomit
  • tongue swelling
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • lip swelling
  • face swelling
  • swelling in the throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Rectal bleeding (in children, rare in adults)
  • itchy mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis – a very serious, often life-threatening allergic reaction.

The following allergic reactions are possible after an insect bite:

  • wheezing
  • Swelling where the sting occurred
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • skin chest
  • Shortness of breathe
  • restlessness
  • Hives – a red, itchy rash that spreads
  • Dizziness
  • Cough
  • chest tightness
  • Anxiety
  • Anaphylaxis.

The following may be signs of an allergic reaction to medication:

  • wheezing
  • swollen tongue
  • swollen lips
  • face swelling
  • Rash
  • Itch
  • Anaphylaxis.

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis:  Anaphylaxis is a serious, rapid-onset allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. This type of allergic reaction has several different symptoms that can appear minutes or hours after exposure to the allergen. If exposure is intravenous, onset is usually between 5 to 30 minutes. A food allergen will take longer.

The most commonly affected areas in anaphylaxis are the skin (80-90%), respiratory (70%), gastrointestinal (30-45%), cardiovascular (10-45%) and the central nervous system (10-15%). In most cases, two areas are affected simultaneously.

Anaphylaxis – Skin Symptoms: Hives  all over the body, flushing and itching. Affected tissues may also become swollen (angioedema). Some patients may experience a burning sensation on the skin.

In about 20% of cases, there is swelling of the tongue and throat. If the skin has a strange bluish color, it could be a sign of hypoxia (lack of oxygen). Some patients may suffer from a runny nose. The membrane that covers the front of the eye and the inside of the eyelid (conjunctiva) can become inflamed.

Anaphylaxis – Respiratory Symptoms:

  • Shortness of breathe
  • Wheezing – caused by bronchial muscle spasms
  • Stridor – a high-pitched vibrating breathing sound when breathing. Caused by upper airway obstruction due to swelling
  • Hoarseness
  • Odynophagia – pain when swallowing
  • cough _

Anaphylaxis – Cardiovascular Symptoms:  Coronary artery spasm – sudden tightening of muscle in the artery wall (temporary) due to heart cells releasing histamine. This can lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack), arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) or cardiac arrest (cardiac arrest).

Low blood pressure can cause your heart rate to speed up. In some cases, a slow heart rate can occur as a result of low blood pressure (Bezold-Jarisch reflex). Patients whose blood pressure suddenly drops may experience lightheadedness and dizziness. Some may lose consciousness. In some rare cases, the only sign of anaphylaxis may be low blood pressure.

Anaphylaxis – Gastrointestinal Symptoms: 

  • abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • vomit
  • loss of bladder control
  • Pelvic pain (like uterine cramping).
  • Patients may also have a sense of impending doom.

Major Causes of Allergies:  Allergies arecaused by an overly sensitive immune system. The immune system of a person with an allergy reacts to the allergen as if it were a harmful pathogen – such as an unwanted bacteria, virus, fungus, or toxin.

However, the allergen is not harmful. The immune system has simply become hypersensitive to this substance. When the immune system reacts to an allergen, it releases immunoglobulin E (IgE), a type of antibody. IgE is released to destroy the allergen. IgE causes the production of chemicals in the body. These chemicals cause the allergic reaction.

One of these chemicals is called histamine. Histamine causes muscles to tighten, including those in the airways and blood vessel walls. It also causes the lining of the nose to produce more mucus.

People with allergies blame the allergen for their symptoms — a friend’s pet, pollen, or dust mites. However, allergens are not harmful. The problem is not the allergen, but the immune system of allergic people, which mistakes harmless substances for harmful people.

Risk Factors For Allergies:  In medicine, a risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing a disease or condition. That risk can come from something a person does. For example, smoking is a risk factor for lung disease. It could also be something you were born with. For example, if your mother had breast cancer , your daughter also has a higher risk of developing breast cancer . A family history of breast cancer is a risk factor. Below are some risk factors associated with allergies :

  • A family history of asthma – if your parents, grandparents or siblings had asthma , your risk of having an allergy is higher
  • A family history of allergies – if a close relative has an allergy, your risk of allergies is higher
  • Being a child – a child is much more likely to have an allergy than an adult. On a positive note, this means that many children outgrow their allergies.
  • Having asthma – people with asthma are significantly more likely to develop allergies .
  • There is not enough exposure to sunlight – children who live in areas with less sunlight have higher rates of allergies.
  • Having an allergy – if you already have an allergy, there is a higher risk of developing an allergy to something else.
  • C-section of babies – babies have a considerably higher risk of developing allergies compared to those born naturally
  • Chemicals Used in Water Purification – Pesticides in tap water may be partly to blame for rising food allergy rates in the US.

Treatment for Allergies: Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) need to be treated with a drug called epinephrine. Can be lifesaving when administered immediately. If you use epinephrine, call 911 and go straight to the hospital.

The best way to reduce symptoms is to avoid what causes your allergies . This is especially important for food and drug allergies. There are several types of medications to prevent and treat allergies .

The medication your doctor recommends depends on the type and severity of your symptoms, your age, and your overall health. Illnesses that are caused by allergies (such as asthma , hay fever , and eczema ) may need other treatments. Medications that can be used to treat allergies include:

Antihistamines:  Antihistamines are available without a prescription. They are available in many forms, including:

  • capsules and pills
  • Eye drops
  • Injection
  • Liquid
  • nasal spray

Corticosteroids:  These are anti-inflammatory medications. They are available in many forms, including:

  • Skin creams and ointments
  • Eye drops
  • nasal spray
  • pulmonary inhaler

People with severe allergy symptoms may be given corticosteroid pills or injections for short periods.

Decongestants:  Decongestants help relieve a stuffy nose. Do not use decongestant nasal sprays for more than several days as they can cause a rebound effect and worsen congestion. Decongestants in pill form do not cause this problem. People with high blood pressure, heart problems, or an enlarged prostate should use decongestants with caution.

Other Medications:  Leukotriene inhibitors are medications that block substances that cause allergies. Person with asthma and allergies painless and outdoors can be prescribed these medications.

Allergy Shots: Allergy  shots (immunotherapy) are sometimes recommended if you cannot avoid the allergen and your symptoms are difficult to control. Allergy shots keep your body re-reacting to the allergen. You will receive regular injections of the allergen. Each dose is slightly larger than the last dose until you reach a maximum dose. These shots don’t work for everyone and you will have to visit the doctor frequently.

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) Treatment:  Instead of shots, meds placed under the tongue can help grass and ragweed allergies.

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