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Allergies usually occur when the body reacts to a foreign substance that isn’t necessarily harmful. Every year, more than 50 million people in the US experience a type of allergy. New studies have found that allergies are the 6th main cause of chronic health conditions in the US.
Allergens refer to the foreign substance that causes an allergic reaction. They include medications, certain foods, latex, insect stings, mold, and pollen. If you are allergy-prone, your immune system will produce allergic antibodies the first time you come in to contact with a specific allergen. The antibodies will help find and eliminate the allergen from your body. While doing this, a chemical known as histamine will be released. This chemical causes symptoms like sneezing, itching, red eyes, and a runny nose.
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Types of Allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), there are seven main types of allergies. Below is an overview of each of them.
A sting from insects like wasps, yellow jackets, and bees can cause an allergic reaction. Like cockroaches and dust mites, insects that don’t sting can equally cause an allergic reaction.
Many experts refer to it as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It is caused by pollen from weeds (such as pigweed, tumbleweed, and sagebrush) and trees (like oak and birch).
Certain foods can trigger an allergic reaction. Experts have found that food like milk, fish, nuts, and soy are the main causes of food allergies.
This is caused by fungi, mildew, and mold. Mold allergies can happen all year round because fungi can grow and thrive in many indoor and outdoor areas.
Drug allergy is very rare. It is estimated that only 1% of all admission has drug allergies.
According to the AAFA, 3 in 10 persons experience an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the urine, fur, or saliva of pets like dogs and cats.
This is an allergic reaction to natural rubber latex.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Allergies
Most people experience mild to severe irritation and inflammation when they experience an allergic reaction. The full range of symptoms one will experience depends on the allergen.
Below are some of the symptoms of some types of allergies:
- Swelling (lips and face), severe rash, wheezing, fever, and shortness of breath
- Insect Allergy: Restlessness, a cough, itchy skin, swelling, dizziness, and a drop in blood pressure
- Coughing, runny nose, facial pain, itchy throat, and ears, sneezing and decreased sense of smell
- Diarrhea, swelling (throat, lips, tongue, and face), tingling sensation in the moth, shortness of breath, and vomiting
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Studies have found that it usually affects the respiratory system and the skin. Some of its symptoms are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty in breathing
- Low blood pressure
Diagnosis of Allergies
Allergies can be diagnosed in 3 main ways: blood test, patch test, and skin prick test. Before a doctor carries out any of these tests, he will first perform a physical exam and ask about the symptoms the patient is experiencing, items and substances they came in to contact with, and what they ate recently.
Blood Test: The blood is tested for the presence of immunoglobulin E, which is an antibody that causes allergies.
Skin Prick Test: Here, the doctor or allergist pricks the skin with an allergen suspected to have caused the reaction.
Patch Test: The patch test involves taping a small amount of an allergen to the back of a patient. After 48 hours, the patch will be removed and the skin will be inspected.
How to Treat Allergies
Prescription & over-the-counter drugs can be used to mitigate the symptoms of allergies. The severity of the allergies will determine what your doctor will recommend.
An emergency epinephrine shot is used only when a person is experiencing a life-threatening allergy. This quick action shot can help stop allergies triggered by medication, food, or insects right in their tracks. Health experts recommend that people with a severe or life-threatening allergy should carry an emergency epinephrine shot with them at all times.
These are a series of injections that help get the body used to a specific allergy. If the treatment is successful, you won’t experience the symptoms of the allergy again.
How to Manage Allergies
Many supplements promise to address allergies. Before opting for any of them or any natural remedy, it is essential that you first consult your doctor. Note that some natural treatments may contain allergens that may worsen your issue.
Many people use the following to relieve the symptoms of allergies:
- Vitamin C
- Eucalyptus oil
- How long will an allergic reaction last? The time frame varies from person to person. It may last a couple of hours to a few days.
- When should I be worried about an allergy? You should consult a doctor when the symptoms of your allergy are severe (e.g. loss of consciousness, vomiting, difficulty breathing).
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!