Allergies affect 20-30% of the Indian population, according to a Government Study published in 2013. These numbers are estimated to have risen multifold in the recent past due to the exponential increase in pollution levels, daily stress, and sedentary lifestyles.
So, how can you be better prepared to keep allergies at bay?
What is an allergy?
An allergy your immune system’s response to certain substances that either enter or come in contact with your body. These substances are called allergens. Allergens can be as diverse: food substances, pollen, and prescribed drugs.
Some of the milder signs and symptoms of allergies include irritation, allergic reaction rash or inflammation of the skin. You may also have trouble breathing, along with sneezing and coughing.
Be Aware of the Various Types of Allergies, their Treatment, and Prevention
The most common allergies that you might encounter include:
Food allergies: Food allergies occur when your immune system reacts negatively to certain food substances. The reaction could range from swelling, hives, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting, to life-threatening anaphylaxis—a whole body reaction that causes breathing difficulty, a huge drop in blood pressure and dramatic fluctuations in your heart rate.
The onset of anaphylaxis could take place within just a few minutes to a few hours of consumption of the allergen—the only recourse being a prompt injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
How can you avoid this perilous situation?
Luckily, these 8 food items cause 90% of all food allergies, which makes it easier for you to identify your poison: eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and wheat.
If you or a loved one feels the onset of allergic symptoms after eating certain foods, consult a food allergist who will recommend blood and lab tests to verify your allergy. Also, be especially careful whilst eating out. You should stay away from any dishes that contain allergens. Consult the chef if you’re not sure as the waiting and kitchen staff may not be adequately informed.
Skin allergies: You can contract skin allergies by coming into contact with a myriad objects ranging from jewellery made of metals like nickel and cobalt to plants (poison ivy, poison oak) or adhesives, and personal-care products such as soaps, lotions, and shampoos.
Signs and symptoms of allergies on your skin can include rashes, bumps or redness of skin caused due to eczema, hives, or contact dermatitis. Food items like peanuts and seafood and even certain medications can increase the risk of skin allergies.
You can heal skin allergy rashes, scars, and inflammations effectively with the help of ointments and oral anti-allergic medications. Certain natural anti-allergens and anti-inflammatory herbs can also be helpful in treating the signs and symptoms of the allergies you may have developed.
Drug allergies: You may have allergic reactions to medicines such as antibiotics and anticonvulsants. This occurs when your body misidentifies a drug as a microbe and tries to fight it.
Treatment – Discontinuing the causative drug should be the first step of your treatment plan. Other medications such as Antihistamines, Corticosteroids should be administered if there are severe allergy symptoms which do not subside soon.
Last But Not the Least…
Adopt Lifestyle Practices to Prevent Allergies
Post-diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe allergy prevention medication to manage your condition. Here are a few steps that you can take on your own to cope with allergies:
- Maintain a well-balanced diet with necessary nutrients including vitamin B6, folate, iron etc. This will help improve your immunity, thereby making you less susceptible to allergies.
- Keep a note of the things you are allergic to so you don’t end up consuming them or coming in contact with them.
- Let your doctor know about your allergies prior to any treatment procedure.
- Be aware of the ingredients of the food you consume be it at a restaurant, at home or at someone else’s house.
You may not always be allergic to a substance since your childhood. Allergies may develop at a later age, so don’t be surprised if you receive a positive diagnosis without any prior incidences. Learn about your allergies as much as you can to best protect yourself against the trigger factors, hence preventing an allergic outbreak.