Do you sometimes have rashes or perhaps itches on your face and body when you come in contact with some certain things?
Our immune system is a weird and sensitive one, when scientists understood the mechanism with which it works, then they began to bring out ways to give it information prior to exposure of a disease (vaccination).
But then, there are times the immune system just reacts to harmless substances in the environment. This is Allergy. These harmless substances that it reacts to are called Allergens. Allergens could range from dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, ticks, mould ,food and even medicines.
So when a person is allergic to a substance, because of how the immune system works or is programmed, it mistakenly believes that the substance which is most likely foreign is harmful to the body and it even goes as far as producing antibodies against this ‘supposed’ harmful substance which is harmless actually.
WHAT’S THE MECHANISM BEHIND ALLERGY?
HOW DOES ALLERGY OCCUR?
It’s the duty of the immune system to protect the body at all times. Now when your body reacts to an allergen (which it mistakes to be harmful), in response to this reaction, it produces an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (Ig E).
The production of Ig E is part of your body’s attempt to destroy the allergen and protect itself. It responds to these allergens as invaders and exaggerates the immune response.
This leads to the release of histamine which acts as a neurotransmitter (sending signals amongst cells). So your blood vessels dilate in response and becomes leaky, then white blood cells (the body’s soldiers) and other protective substances leave the blood vessels to attack the ‘supposed’ harmful substance.
It’s this release of histamine that leads to some unwanted response which we see as irritations and reactions depending on how it manifests.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ALLERGIC?
Do you cough or develop rashes or even watery eyes each time, for instance, a furry cat is close to you?
About 1 in every 5 persons have an allergy. And because human nature is embedded in diversity, these reactions present in several forms. These reactions are a response from the immune system to protect the body from these substances. Not limited to these, the reactions include
• Skin rashes
• Watery eyes
• Redness of the face or any part of the body
• Mouth Sores
• Itchy throat
• Difficulty in breathing
• Stuffy Nose
• Cracked Skin/Dry patches / Hives/Eczema
• Nausea and vomiting
These allergic reactions can be grouped into types
– Dust Allergy: This is allergy caused by exposure to dust mites, pollen grains, animal dander or even fungal spore. The reactive response to this allergy included readiness, sneezing, itching, nausea, etc.
– Skin Allergy: Reactions like eczema, urticaria, cracked skin, swelling, itches, rashes or bumps.
– Insect Allergy: This is Allergy due to insect bites (e.g bees, wasps) and bites (mosquitoes, fleas)
– Drug Allergy: Here, intake of liquid medicines, pill or injections can cause reactions such as swelling, rashes, itches, nausea or vomiting.
WHAT TRIGGERS (CAUSES) ALLERGY?
Allergies or allergic reactions are provoked or aroused by allergens, some people are aware of these allergens that evokes these reactions, while some others are may not put them into consideration. We shall evaluate some common allergies individuals have, you might find out yours if you don’t already know
– Pets the ones with fur are some people’s allergens, as well as the ones without fur.
– Cockroaches and Insect bites It’s been found that the proteins in the droppings or saliva of cockroaches could evoke allergic reactions with insects bites being included.
– Latex Allergic reactions to latex is very serious as it’s found in gloves, condoms, bandages, or even medicated equipments.
– Jewelry Some people develop allergic reactions after wearing ornaments like earrings, necklaces and this could manifest as rashes, itches, dark patches, etc.
– Colour Yes, it sounds funny. But it does happen, some coloured foods such as orange coloured cream, purple dyed sweets, and chocolates which are brown could elicit allergic reactions.
– Foods It’s the most common allergic trigger, such as peanut butter, particular flavours of ice cream and the list goes on.
– Drugs Some drugs can make your throat want to tighten after taking them, some can cause dizziness, as well as headaches.
– Dust mites, pollens and moulds These are also allergens that can be found in the environment. Molds are mostly seen in moist surfaces such as the bathroom, while dust mites could be found in pillows, mattresses, carpets,etc. Try bringing in more ventilation to such places and clean out areas that could be eroded by dust.
– Cosmetics Some types of perfumes, body moisturizers, shampoo could incite certain allergic responses like cough, sneezes, nausea because if the peculiarity of perhaps their smell.
WHO CAN GET ALLERGIES?
The tendency to develop allergies is sometimes, more often hereditary (genetic predisposition) meaning that it could be passed on from parents to children, or even among family relatives, members. But the percentage is limited, which implies that even if you have an allergy, your child/ children may not have it also.
Some kids/persons develop allergies, even without any genetic inclination, that is to say no family member is allergic.
DIAGNOSIS OF ALLERGY
If your doctor suspects an allergy of, let’s say of fish. He might allow you eat the fish and after giving a little time, try to notice any adverse reaction that might result from eating it. That way, he can make an accurate diagnosis after he has recorded the symptoms.
Another thing he might also consider doing is to perform skin and blood tests to perhaps make a much better accurate diagnosis.
ARE ALLERGIES TREATABLE?
In a way, we can say that they are treatable,although the best approach to treating it is to avoid the particular triggers.
Allergic treatments differ, depending on the severity of the condition and the type of allergy.
If the allergic reactions are not so severe, antihistamine drugs could be given to relieve the histaminic effects.
Decongestants/ Nasal steroid sprays that can relieve congestion.
Allergy shots can be given to lessen the immune system’s reaction to allergens.
If the reactions are so severe such as an asthma or anaphylaxis, your doctor could prescribe epinephrine.
COMPLICATIONS OF ALLERGIES
People with allergies are at risk of developing complications that range from mild to potentially life threatening.
One of the most serious allergic complications is anaphylaxis, which is commonly associated with allergies involving food, drugs like penicillin, and insect venom.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:
• A drop in blood pressure
• Loss of consciousness
• Severe shortness of breath
• Skin rash
• Rapid or weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Light headedness
• Severe wheezing
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. It can cause seizures, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), shock, or respiratory distress.
If you or someone around you has an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflamed airways and trouble breathing. An asthma attack causes chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and episodes of severe shortness of breath.
In 2015, more than 24 million people in the United States had asthma, and nearly half had an asthma attack.
Allergies and asthma are on a spectrum and frequently overlap. Ninety percent of children and 50 percent of adults with asthma have allergic asthma.
Allergic asthma causes inflamed airways to become irritated and over respond when an irritant is inhaled, triggering an asthma attack. The muscles around the airways tighten, making the airways swell and overproduce mucus. The risk of developing asthma if you have allergic rhinitis is significant, says Bassett.