Allergies can happen to adults as well as children. The first signs of allergies are sneezing continuously, rash or itchy and watery eyes. While it may seem that the problem is on the outside, let’s take a look at how our immune system functions, to understand allergies better.
Our immune system defends our body by fighting harmful bacteria and viruses. There are instances when the body also fights certain substances that it thinks have the potential to harm you. This is called an allergy. Each antibody released by the body targets specific allergens. It can be triggered by certain foods, medications or environmental substances. These include peanuts, pollen, egg, milk, etc.
You can come into contact with allergens in many ways: through the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, or stomach. This leads to clogging your sinuses, inflammation, blocked nose, making it difficult to breathe, and stomach problems.
What are the most common types of allergies?
Pollen is an environmental factor. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever is caused due to pollen. It causes inflammation and swelling of the inner lining of your nose and tissues of your eyes.
Symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, nose and mouth are often noticed. There are over-the-counter medications available to provide you relief from pollen allergies. You must avoid pollen, stay indoors when pollen counts are high outdoors and use air conditioning.
- Dust mites
One of the most common causes of allergies is dust mites. These are tiny organisms that survive in dust and in the fibers of household objects. Warm and humid environment is ideal for their growth. Dust allergy symptoms are similar to pollen allergy.
You must always use clean pillows, mattresses, carpet and upholstery, use airtight plastic covers and vacuum frequently. Treatment may also include certain medications, nasal sprays, and eye drops. Immunotherapy may also be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with medications.
Molds are tiny fungi that float freely in the air, like pollen. These are a common trigger for allergies and can be found indoors in damp areas. Ideally these are seen more during hot, humid weather. Treatment includes medications and avoiding the buildup of molds in your house.
- Animal dander
In this case the allergic reaction is caused by the protein secreted in the sweat glands of an animal’s skin, and by the proteins in an animal’s saliva. You should not be keeping pets at home if you suffer from allergies caused by animal dander. Using air filtration can also help in certain cases.
People may develop a latex allergy after repeated contact with latex. These are found in rubber gloves, condoms, and can cause rash, hives, eye tearing and irritation and itchy skin. These reactions may be mild or severe and need medical attention.
Food allergies can happen to anybody irrespective of any medical condition. Your body tends to develop a specific antibody to a specific food and as soon as you eat it, you may have an allergic reaction. Some of the most common food allergies are shellfish, sea foods, even children, may be allergic to dairy products, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.
The symptoms include rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties and swelling around the mouth. You must avoid these foods and carry anti-allergens at all times.
- Insect venom and stings
If you get a bee sting, pain, swelling and redness are obvious reactions. However, a swelling that extends beyond the sting site is more serious and likely an allergic reaction. You may experience breathlessness, rapid pulse, dizziness or a drop in your blood pressure. Sometimes this may even be life-threatening and must be treated by a doctor immediately.
Some people are allergic to certain drugs. It is common and the symptoms are just like any other allergic reaction. In severe cases, you may develop anaphylaxis which puts your body in shock and it is best to consult a doctor regarding the same.
While over-the-counter medications are a great instant fix and provide relief from allergies, sometimes you may have allergic-type asthma and need an inhaler to ease attacks. There are also allergy shots in which an antibody is injected to manage symptoms.
Allergies are common and a proper diagnosis will make you well prepared to combat them. Remember that self-medication is not always the best option, it can make your condition worse and most anti-allergens make you feel drowsy, which is why the right dosage is the key and a doctor is the best person to guide you accordingly.