Allergy is a very common problem in the modern world. Millions of adults and children across the globe suffer from different types of allergies like mold allergy, pollen allergy and drug allergy. There are many causes and symptoms of allergy, while most are not life-threatening, it is important to know when to visit a doctor to prevent mishaps.
What is an allergy?
An allergy can be defined as a reaction to a substance in the environment which doesn’t affect most people. Substances that induce allergies are known as allergens. Some common examples of allergens are- pollen, dust, insects, gluten etc.
When some people come in contact with allergens they have an immune reaction to them leading to symptoms such as sneezing, itching, redness, red or swollen eyes, fever and more.
What happens during an allergic reaction?
When a person who is allergic to a certain substance, let’s assume pollen for example, comes in contact with it, an immune reaction in the body follows. As soon as the allergen enters the body, an antibody response takes place. The antibody cells attach themselves to mast cells. When the mast calls touch the allergen, histamine is released. Release of histamine causes symptoms of allergy such as sneezing.
What are the symptoms of allergy?
Different allergens can cause varied symptoms in the body. For example Rhinitis has symptoms like-
- Itchy and runny nose
- Watery, red and swollen eyes
Food allergies can have symptoms like-
- Tingling of mouth and lips
- Swollen lips, tips and face
Drug allergy symptoms are-
- Itchy skin
- Wheezing and coughing
- Swelling of the face
Insect sting allergy can induce symptoms like-
- Swelling in the affected area
- Difficulty breathing
What are the causes of allergy?
The possible causes of allergies are-
- Pollen in trees and grass
- Animal fur
- Foods like gluten, peanuts and dairy
- Dust mites
- Insect stings
- Certain types of medications
The symptoms of these allergens can be mild like a runny nose and also severe such as wheezing and tightness in the chest. It is critical to immediately consult a doctor if you feel serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing and talking or swelling in the mouth and face.
How to treat allergies?
As the age old adage goes “prevention is better than cure”. Try to avoid allergens as much as possible. Stay indoors during particularly dusty months, or wear a mask. Avoid foods containing allergens like gluten or dairy.
If you do get an allergic reaction it can be treated. First, identify the cause of the allergy and what has caused it. Secondly, consult a doctor for mild over-the-counter medication to ease the symptoms. Conversely if the symptoms are not severe, one can also take non-medicated treatments like saline sprays, especially effective during rhinitis.
Allergy relief supplements can also be taken to reduce allergic symptoms and bring quick relief to the patient. Lastly if you constantly suffer from allergies, you can consider allergen immunotherapy. Allergen immunotherapy is a long-term allergy treatment in which regularly small doses of allergen extracts are injected into the body. This is done to alter the immune system’s response to the allergens.