What is an Allergy?
Allergy is a type of condition where a foreign substance causes your immune system to react abnormally. The immune system is responsible for protecting you against harmful substances. In order to do this, the system produces antibodies. However, sometimes the immune system identifies a particular allergen as harmful, when in fact it is not harmful. When your body comes in contact with this particular allergen your immune system will start reacting. While it can cause just a minor irritation for some people, it can be life-threatening for others.
Symptoms Of Allergy
Allergy symptoms usually depend on the particular allergen that your immune system has chosen to react to. The symptoms may affect your sinuses airways, nasal passages, digestive system, or skin depending on the type of Allergy you have. Allergic reactions tend to range from mild to severe. The symptoms caused due to Hay fever are:
- Runny nose
- Nose or eye Itching
- Watery, red eyes
The symptoms brought forth by a food allergy include hives, swelling of the tongue, lips, face or throat, tingling sensation in the mouth, anaphylaxis, and so on.
Some of the symptoms caused by an insect sting allergy include cough, wheezing or shortness of breath, chest tightness, edema at the sting site, anaphylaxis, and so on. Anaphylaxis is a severe and life-threatening symptom that can cause your body to go into shock. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Skin rash
- Drop-in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid, weak pulse
Who is at Risk?
People have a higher risk of developing an allergy if:
- Family history of asthma
- Are a child
- Have another allergic condition
- Have asthma
Allergy risk factors include having asthma. If your immediate family members have asthma, there is a high chance that you already have asthma or you will develop it shortly. If you are susceptible to asthma, that makes you equally susceptible to allergies as well. It is important to be aware of allergies and their symptoms so that you know when to see a doctor in case the symptoms become severe.
When a particular allergen triggers an allergic reaction, it causes the immune system to produce antibodies. The allergens then bind to these antibodies, the body releases chemicals that are responsible for triggering the allergic reaction symptoms. It causes the walls of your blood vessels as well as the muscles in your airways to tighten. It also causes the lining of your nose to produce more mucus. This is why you experience a runny nose and difficulty in breathing when you have an allergic reaction. Finding out what causes allergies can be handy in avoiding allergic reactions, especially if you are prone to severe reactions that require an immediate visit to the Emergency Room.
How is Allergy diagnosed?
A General Physician can easily come to an allergy diagnosis based on the symptoms and asking you different questions. These questions include:
- When and how the symptoms occurred
- Family history of asthma
- What seemed to cause the reaction
- Has this happened before
The Allergy doctor may also prescribe some tests to finalize the diagnosis:
- Blood tests
- Skin prick tests
- Patch tests
The blood tests measure the level of antibodies, while the skin prick test is used to test your reaction to a particular allergen. The Patch test is often used to check for contact eczema. It involves taping a metal disc with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen to your back. It is checked after 48 hours and then again after 2 days to confirm the diagnosis.
How is Allergy treated?
Avoiding allergens is the best Allergy treatment. However, this may not always be possible in real life. In case the allergic reactions are minor, it can be treated easily with medication. The medication helps you to manage the symptoms rather than offer you an Allergy cure. Antihistamines are often prescribed for minor allergic reactions which include running nose, itching, and so on. In case the patient goes into Anaphylaxis, immediate medical attention is required. This is why people with severe allergies often carry an auto-injector that helps deliver a measured dose of epinephrine to the bloodstream. If you think you are allergic to a particular allergen, it is a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible to find out the different options available. Cure.fit offers you the option of having virtual appointments with the doctor of your choice via the online video consultation service.
How can Allergy be Prevented?
Prevention of Allergy is possible as long as you avoid the allergen that triggers an allergic reaction. Once you find the reasons for Allergy, it becomes a lot easier to avoid an allergic reaction, especially if your reactions tend to be severe and cause you to become hospitalized.