Allergies is a response of the immune system to a foreign substance that is normally not harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergens. They could be certain foods, pollen or pet dander. The job of the immune system is to keep you healthy by fighting infections and other harmful pathogens. He does this by attacking everything he thinks could put your body in danger. Depending on the allergen, this response may involve inflammation, sneezing or a variety of other symptoms. The immune system normally adjusts to its surroundings. For example, when the body finds something like pet dander, it must realize that it is harmless. In people with allergies to dandruff, the immune system perceives it as an external invader that threatens the body and attacks it.
Allergies are common and several treatments can help you avoid symptoms.
What is the Cause of an Allergy?
Researchers are not exactly sure why the immune system causes an allergic reaction when a normally harmless foreign substance enters the body. Allergies have a genetic component, which means they can be passed from parents to children. However, only a general susceptibility to the allergic reaction is genetic. Specific allergies are not transmitted. For example, if your mother is allergic to shellfish, it does not necessarily mean that you will be too. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, common types of allergens include:
- Animal products:Pet dander, dust mite debris, cockroaches.
- Food:Wheat, nuts , milk , eggs.
- Insectbites: bees, wasps, mosquitoes.
- Mold:Airborne mold spores.
- Plants:Pollen of herbs, weeds and trees, as well as the resin of plants such as poison ivy and poison oak.
- Others:Latex, metals.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are some of the most common allergies. These are caused by pollen released by plants. The symptoms can be:
- Itchy eyes
- Crying eyes
- Runny nose
How to Know if it is an Allergy?
Also known as “the common cold,” a cold is a virus. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 100 different types of cold viruses. Although symptoms and severity may vary, colds generally share some basic characteristics. The main characteristics of this common disease are detailed below:
- Colds can be transmitted through the air when coughing and sneezing, as well as through touch.
- The most common symptoms include cough, sore throat and stuffy runny nose.
- Sneezing and itchy eyes are less common symptoms.
- The most severe colds can cause fever and body aches.
Recovery is usually quick; In fact, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) estimates that the average duration is 7 to 10 days. If the symptoms last more than one or two weeks, the cold may have progressed to an infection. People with allergies are sometimes more likely to catch a cold. Despite its name, you can get a “cold” at any time of the year. The NIAID estimates that an average healthy adult gets two or three colds per year. Young children may have more colds because of their weaker immune system.
Allergies occur when the immune system has an adverse reaction to certain substances. After exposure to triggers, the immune system releases chemicals called histamines.
“While the intention is to combat perceived intruders, histamine release is actually what causes allergy symptoms”.
The following are the characteristics of allergies:
- Some of the symptoms are similar to colds, such as sneezing, sore throat, cough, runny nose and congestion.
- Sore throat in allergies is caused by postnasal drip.
- Allergies can also cause rashes and itchy eyes.
- Fevers and body aches are not signs of an allergy.
- Seasonal allergies are more common, but it is also possible to be allergic to certain substances throughout the year.
How to Know if You are Allergic to Any Food?
When the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to something that is eaten or drunk, it is known as food allergy. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies. Children have a higher incidence. Approximately 1 in 13 children in the United States lives with food allergies. A food allergy can affect the skin, gastrointestinal tract or respiratory or cardiovascular systems. Many types of foods can be allergens, but certain foods are much more likely than others to trigger an allergic reaction. According to FARE, the following 8 foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food allergies:
- Cow milk
- Nuts, such as cashews or nuts
Symptoms of Food Allergies:
The symptoms of food allergies can vary from mild to severe. They may appear suddenly or develop over several hours. A person’s immune system can react to a small amount of the allergen, so food allergies can be particularly dangerous and life-threatening, especially if breathing is affected. Because food allergies can affect breathing, people with asthma are at a higher risk of having a fatal allergic reaction to food.
Mild symptoms related to a food allergy may include:
- Stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Stomach cramps
The symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) to food are:
- Trouble breathing, including wheezing
- Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
- Hives (an itchy, spotted, and raised rash)
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
Milk allergies have been studied more than any other food allergy. A milk allergy is a reaction to whey or casein, the proteins found in cow’s milk. It is not the same as lactose intolerance. Children with milk allergies are much more likely to develop allergic reactions to other foods, including eggs, soybeans and peanuts. Most children with milk allergies also develop one or more atopic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema.
What is Skin Allergy?
The skin, although it does not appear it is very sensitive, and more for some people. If you experience skin irritation or itching after coming into contact with a specific substance, you may have contact dermatitis. This condition occurs when your skin is exposed to something to which you are allergic or very sensitive. If you have contact dermatitis, it is advisable to go to your trusted doctor to determine which type you have, and thus find the best way to relieve symptoms.
What are the Types of Contact Dermatitis?
Doctors divide contact dermatitis into two types: allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Although, both cause irritation and itching, but as for the associated symptoms, each has different triggers.
How Can I Know the Symptoms of Allergic Contact Dermatitis?
Among the most common allergic contact dermatitis symptoms are: blisters, red skin, irritation, tenderness, burning, itching. In addition, the symptoms do not always manifest on the skin immediately. In some cases, they can be noticed between 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Examples of symptoms associated with allergic contact dermatitis include:
- Areas with blisters
- Dry and flaky skin areas
- Red skin, which may be present in certain areas
- Irritated skin, but no visible sores on the skin
- Sun sensitivity
These symptoms may last two to four weeks after exposure.
What Substances Can Cause Allergic Contact Dermatitis?
The main substances that cause allergic contact dermatitis are:
- Formaldehyde (preservative)
- Nickel or other metals
- Poison Ivy
- Rubber ingredients
- Tattoo ink and black henna
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused as a result of skin contact with any substance you are allergic to. This means that the body will trigger an immune system response that causes itching and skin irritation. There is a difference between a severe allergic reaction that could affect your breathing (known as Anaphylaxis reaction) and an allergic contact dermatitis. Severe allergic reactions cause the body to release an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). This antibody is not released in allergic reactions of contact dermatitis.
What to do Against Skin Allergy?
A doctor may recommend treatments for skin allergy or allergic dermatitis depending on what is causing the reaction. Some examples of common treatments could be:
- Antihistamine medications
- Oatmeal baths
- Lotions or soothing creams
- Topical corticosteroids
- Avoid scratching the rash because scratching can cause infection.
Essential oils can be used as an alternative or complementary treatment for allergy symptoms. They are derived from plants and can be used in several ways. The ways to use essential oils are usually:
- Spread them in the air
- Use them in bath and spa products
- Apply them to the skin when diluted
- Spray them in the air
- Inhale directly from the container
If you want to incorporate essential oils in to relieve allergy symptoms, here are some that are recommended to try.
Lavender is an essential oil well known for its many benefits. It can help calm symptoms during allergy season thanks to its ability to calm and reduce inflammation. One study concluded that the essential oil prevents allergic inflammation as well as the enlargement of mucous cells. Try using lavender in an aromatherapy diffuser, or diluted in a base oil and or in the tub diluted in water.
2. Mix of Sandalwood, Incense and Ravensara Oil:
One study used a mixture of sandalwood, frankincense and Ravensara oils to treat perennial allergic rhinitis. Study participants reported improvement in clogged nasal entries, runny nose, itching, and sneezing. This suggests that this combination of essential oils can help with allergy symptoms, the quality of life related to allergies and to sleep better. To use this mixture of oils, mix with an almond base oil to dilute its strength and spread it in the air.
Eucalyptus oil is known as anti-inflammatory and can help with congestion. The feeling of cold that you experience while breathing can also help you feel relief in combating seasonal allergies. Try spreading it in the air or inhaling it from the bottle to feel better.
4. Tea tree Oil:
More research is still needed on the relationship between essential oils and allergy relief, but tea tree oil can help with allergy symptoms. This is because this oil is recognized as an anti-inflammatory. However, tea tree oil can also trigger allergies. Ideally, make a test in a small space of the skin. Only use tea tree oil topically – DO NOT SWALLOW it.
It is known that peppermint essential oil reduces inflammation. It helps to breathe more easily if the oil diffuses or even when applied to the skin after diluting it with a base oil. The combination of mint with lavender and lemon oils relieves allergy effectively. However, keep in mind that combined oils can increase the chances of having an allergic reaction.
Essential oils with citrus aroma are often used in aromatherapy to increase alertness and energy. Lemon essential oil can also help clear the sinuses for nasal and reduce congestion. Be careful when exposing the skin to the sun or tanning beds if you use lemon or any citrus scent oil.
How can Skin Allergy be Prevented?
Once it is determined what is causing the allergy, that substance should be avoided. Care must be taken when reading labels for skin care products, household cleaning products, jewelry and more. If you suspect that you have come into contact with any substance that you may be allergic to, wash the area with soap and warm water as quickly as possible. Applying cold and wet compresses
When to See a Doctor?
Allergy symptoms can create many complications, you should see a doctor in case of: severe reaction, unmanageable symptoms and anaphylaxis. The doctor can help you determine the cause of your symptoms, as well as the difference between a sensitivity and an allergy. Your doctor can also teach you how to manage allergy symptoms.
Food allergies can trigger bloating, hives, nausea, fatigue and more. It may take a while for a person to realize that they have a food allergy. If you have a serious reaction after a meal and are not sure why, consult a professional immediately. They can find the exact cause of your reaction or refer it to a specialist.
The symptoms of hay fever may resemble those of a cold. They include congestion, runny nose and swollen eyes. Most of the time, you can control these symptoms at home with over-the-counter treatments. Consult your doctor if your symptoms become unmanageable.
Severe allergies can cause anaphylaxis. This is an emergency that endangers life and can cause breathing difficulties, lightheadedness and loss of consciousness. If you experience these symptoms after coming into contact with a possible allergen, seek medical help immediately.
How are Allergies Diagnosed?
Allergies can be diagnosed in several ways. First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. You will also be asked about anything unusual you have eaten recently and about any substance with which you have been in contact. For example, if you have a rash on your hands, your doctor may ask you if you have used latex gloves recently.
Food allergies are usually diagnosed through a discard process. Your doctor may ask you to follow a discard diet. This means that you eliminate certain foods from your diet and then rate the symptoms. Then, slowly, you add food back to the diet and record your symptoms in a food diary.
Your doctor may also prescribe an allergist for tests and treatment. A skin test is a common type of allergy test performed by an allergist. During this test, your skin is pricked or scratched with small needles that contain potential allergens. The reaction of your skin is documented. If you are allergic to a particular substance, your skin will become red and inflamed.
Your doctor or allergist may also request a blood test known as a radio allergy absorption test (RAST). The blood will be tested for the presence of antibodies that cause allergy (cells that react to allergens).
Treatments for Allergy:
The best way to avoid allergies is to avoid what triggers the reaction. If that is not possible, there are treatment options available.
What are Medications?
such as antihistamines to control symptoms. The medication can be over-the-counter or prescription, depending on the severity of the allergies.
Allergy medications include:
- Cromolyn sodium
- Leukotriene modifiers
Many people opt for immunotherapy. This involves several injections over the course of a few years to help the body get used to its allergy. Successful immunotherapy can prevent the return of allergy symptoms.
What is Emergency Epinephrine for?
If you have a serious life-threatening allergy, you should take an emergency epinephrine injection. The injection counteracts allergic reactions until medical help arrives.
What Other Alternatives Exist?
There are many natural treatments and supplements that are marketed to treat allergies, but you should consult them with your doctor before trying them. Some natural treatments may contain other allergens.
How can I Prevent the Symptoms?
There is no way to prevent allergies. But there are ways to prevent symptoms from occurring. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergens that trigger them. Avoiding the agents that cause allergy is the most effective way to prevent food allergy symptoms. A discard diet can help you determine the cause of your allergies so you know how to avoid them. To help you avoid food allergens, read food labels carefully and check them when you eat out. The prevention of seasonal, contact and other allergies is reduced to knowing where the allergens are and how to avoid them. If you are allergic to dust, for example, it can help reduce symptoms by installing proper air filters in your home, professionally cleaning your air ducts and cleaning your home regularly. Proper allergy tests can help you identify your exact triggers, which makes them easier to avoid.
Allergies are common and have no life-threatening consequences for most people. People who are at risk of anaphylaxis can learn how to manage their allergies and what to do in an emergency situation. Most allergies are manageable if the agents that cause them, medications and lifestyle changes are avoided. Working with your doctor or allergist can help reduce any major complications and make life more enjoyable.