When the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen or allergy-causing substance such as dust, plant pollen or pet dander, it results in an allergy. The immune system usually responds with antibodies that protect us from becoming sick. Sometimes, certain allergens are perceived as harmful and the immune system’s reaction to these causes the allergy.
What symptoms can you expect to see?
The symptoms appear as skin inflammation, a sinus problem, an airways infection or problems with digestion. The intensity of allergic reaction can vary between individuals depending on the source. It can be mild or extreme, turning into a situation necessitating emergency care. Allergies cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be significantly relieved to avoid a severe reaction.
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis usually results in congestion in the chest and nasal passage, an itchy runny nose and eyes, sometimes resulting in conjunctivitis. An allergic skin condition, eczema causes itchy red and flaky skin. If it is a food allergy it may appear as a tingling mouth, swollen lips, tongue and face, hives on the skin or “anaphylaxis” a life-threatening situation. Besides these, insect bites can also cause allergic reactions similar to the other signs. Some medications can also result in severe reactions.
When an allergy results in anaphylaxis, the patient can go into shock. Some indications of this condition are a loss of consciousness, dizziness, breathlessness, a rash on the skin, uneasiness, a swelling in the airways that makes it difficult to breathe.
Risk factors for allergy
Those with a family history for asthma or allergies are at a higher risk. Children tend to develop allergies faster than adults although most grow out of it. If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory disease, it increases your chances of developing a reaction to additional triggers and you must see a chest specialist right away.
The right time to seek treatment
If you happen to see experience indications, see your doctor for a thorough assessment. During your appointment, the doctor will want to know details of your family medical history and any medications you are currently taking to find out the cause of your symptoms. Besides a physical examination and asking questions, your doctor will give you advice about being alert for triggers. If a food allergy is suspected, you may have to maintain a food journal to track what sets off a reaction.
Treatment is also based on the results of a skin test and blood tests to test for sensitivity to allergens. Based on the investigation, the following treatment options may be considered:
Being alert to the trigger and avoiding it
Medications for symptomatic relief
Injections to strengthen the immune system
Injections for emergency relief from severe symptoms
Lifestyle changes and home remedies also play an important role in tackling allergies. If the cause is due to a sinus problem, a neti pot can provide relief. For dust allergies, regular vacuuming, washing bed linen and generally maintaining a dust-free environment can minimize the onset of an allergic reaction. Mould allergy can be prevented by avoiding damp weather. Stress can also be a reason and using relaxation techniques can help.
Prevention is another strategy where known triggers can be avoided. Maintaining a journal of your daily routine, food intake and medication can assist the doctor diagnose the cause of the allergy and treat it effectively.