ABC's Of Allergies

By Refadoc, Posted on : Friday, 11 July 2014 - 8:32 am IST

As seasons change, it becomes very common to see people fighting allergies. It has been noted that one out of three people fight allergies once the weather changes. These allergies may vary from mild to greatly threatening.

Allergies basically happen when the immune system of the sufferer reacts to the substances which are otherwise harmless to most of the people. Also, these substances that cause allergies are known as allergens. They may vary from the dust mites, pets, pollen grains, insects, food moulds or even some medicines.

Atopy is the tendency in people to develop allergic symptoms. People who suffer from these symptoms are known as atopic. When such people are exposed to the allergens in the environment, they develop an immune reaction which often leads to the allergic inflammation in most cases, with symptoms such as redness and swelling.

The most common symptoms of allergy seen in people are:

  • Allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis ( irritation in nose and eyes)
  • Skin disorders such as eczema and urticaria
  • Asthma

A substance which proves as an allergen to one person may not be the cause of allergy to the others. Everyone reacts to different allergens differently. The likelihood of a person to develop allergies is multiplies if a family member is suffering from allergy as well.

Causes of allergies:

An allergic reaction occurs when a person who is allergic to a particular allergen comes in contact with it. This triggers the allergic reaction to take place. With the initiation of the reaction, the body in response triggers the antibody release from the WBC’s. These antibodies, once released, get attached to the mast cells in the body. When the allergens come in contact with the antibodies, the mast cells in return release the chemical histamine. Histamine release in the body goes out to cause swelling and inflammation in the affected body parts.

Some of the most common causes of allergies are:

  • Dust Mites
  • Pollen Grains
  • Certain food products, such as peanuts, cow’s milk, eggs or seafood
  • Animals – cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, pigs etc
  • Moulds
  • Insects
  • Medicines


Symptoms of allergies:

The symptoms of allergies differ from one person to the other. It all depends on the kind of the allergen that a person has been exposed to, and the reaction of the body’s immune system towards that allergen. For instance, if pollen grains have been breathed in through the nose, then usually allergic rhinitis is caused which affects the nose, eyes, sinuses as well as the throat region. However, in the case of the allergies related to food, stomach and bowel problems are usually experienced by the people. It has been noted that in some cases, the allergic reactions involve and affect the various organs of the body at the same time.

The most common symptoms of allergies are:

Irritation in the nose, eyes, sinus and throat:

Allergens in most of the cases are breathed in. Once inside the body, due to the release of the histamine, the inner lining of the nose releases a lot of mucus and thus becomes swollen and inflamed. This in turn causes the itching and sneezing in the person affected and causes a sore throat along with the burning sensation in the eyes.

The lungs and the chest: 

Asthma is one of the biggest allergic reactions caused in people. When the allergen for asthma is breathed in, the linings on the passage of the lungs becomes swollen and therefore, makes the process of breathing very difficult for the person. Asthma of all kinds is not caused by the allergens, but in most of the cases, allergens play a major part in it.

Stomach and the bowel region:

Foods that are associated with allergens all over the world basically consist of peanuts, seafood, dairy products and eggs. These are the most commonly known food allergens. Basically, the allergy due to cow’s milk occurs basically in infants and gives rise to the eczema, asthma, colic and upsetting of the alimentary canal. Lactose intolerance (inability to digest milk sugar) is another one of the major problems that is often associated with allergies.

Skin problems:

Most commonly known skin problems due to occurrence of allergens is eczema and urticaria. While the former results in the dry, itchy and red skin, the latter causes white itchy bumps all over the skin, which often looks like the insect bites. Though, food maybe one of the major reasons for the occurrence of these diseases, allergens are the primary reasons for the occurrence of the above mentioned maladies.


PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF ALLERGIES:

Allergen avoidance or reduction is very much reliant on the identification of the kind of allergy that a person is suffering from. When this has been determined, then steps can be taken for reducing the reaction time and exposure towards the allergen. For example, most people are allergic to the dust mites, but when the reduction of the dust mite id done from the nearby environment, they are able to get well.

Steps to avoid allergens in your home:

1. Wash pillows and sheets every week in hot water
2. Remove all soft toys from your bedroom
3. If possible, replace carpets with hard floors
4. Vacuum your carpets every week
5. Reduce humidity within your home
6. Remove pets from your home, if you are allergic to them
7. Get rid of moulds by cleaning with bleach
8. Seal the leaking bathrooms and roofs
9. Ensure adequate ventilation in your home
10. Remove indoor potted plants
11. Clear blocked under the floor vents
12. Remain indoor during the pollen season
13. Avoid excessive mowing the grass
14. Re Circulate the air in your home and car during the pollen season


Medications for treating allergies:

After taking these precautions, if you are suffering from allergies still, then it would be better to consult a doctor or use the following medications in order to decrease your susceptibility towards allergens in the environment:

Antihistamines:

Antihistamines are the most widely accepted medicine to fight against allergies. They cause the blockage of the histamine production and therefore, reduce the irritating symptoms that follow allergies. Though, these medicines will cause drowsiness in a person, they are greatly responsible to avoid the allergic symptoms. Antihistamines are available at all the major medicine outlets without any prescription.

Intranasal corticosteroid nasal sprays (INCS):

These are known to be one of the most effective treatments for the allergic rhinitis (hay fever). When used appropriately and timely, it can prove to be one of the most effective treatments for the allergy. However, it is recommended to take this upon the prescription of the doctor.

Eye Drops:

The medicated eye drops can prove to greatly decrease the irritation and redness of the eyes. However, it should only be taken upon doctor’s prescription.

Adrenaline:

Often known as one of the best first aid treatments for the emergency life threatening diseases, it is also an effective treatment for the allergic reactions. It is often given to the affected person with an auto injector and can be given to a person even without a medical training.

Non medicated treatment of allergies often includes, saline douches and sprays that have been known to treat rhinitis and sinusitis.

Though allergies are not known to be life threatening in most cases, it is better to seek prevention of the causes of allergies and thus, going on the defensive against the same.

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