Metaphorically, an allergy means strong dislike or aversion (for instance, he is allergic to smoking and alcohol).
In medical science, an allergy is the response of the Immune system (it includes the organs and processes of the body that provide resistance to infection and toxins. Organs usually include the thymus/ bone marrow/ lymph nodes) to a foreign substance that is not typically harmful to the body. These foreign substances are called allergens. The allergens mainly include food/ pollen/ fur/ dust, to which the body, wholly or partly, becomes hypersensitive.
In an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system creates antibodies to fight off foreign substances (dust/ mites/ pollen/ medicine, etc.) that are usually harmless. However, sometimes the body’s immune system identifies some materials as harmful. Even though they are not. When this occurs, it is called an ‘allergic reaction.’ The allergens can be anything stretching from food and medication to environments. When the body comes in contact with these allergens in some way or another. It can cause mild symptoms (like skin irritation/ watery eyes/ sneezing, etc.). In extreme conditions, allergy can lead to Anaphylaxis (it is a severe life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic reactions occur to foods/ insect stings /medications/ latex). The allergic reaction can also take a critical turn, such as respiratory problems and cardiac arrest.
So far as the time for allergic reaction is concerned. The result can occur after several hours (mainly if the allergen causes a reaction after it has been eaten). In sporadic cases, reactions develop after 24 hours. Traumatically, anaphylaxis is a sudden allergic reaction within a few minutes of exposure.
The most common symptoms of allergies are stated below.
The common causes of allergies are food/insect stings/medications. Additionally, environmental and genetic factors, to a large extent, contribute to the allergic attack.
Environmental factors include:
And genetic factors include small inherited genes often acting together with environmental factors.
Allergies occurring in different parts of the human body. The details are highlighted below.
The eyes are the most essential and valuable of all human sense organs. So, any discomfort and trouble caused to the eye will be a shock to the whole body. The indispensability of the eye is well explained in its metaphorical use. (For instance, every child is the apple of the eye, i.e., the dearest to its parents).
Eye allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment (called an allergen). If the eyes itch/ burn/ become red, then it is a condition of eye allergy. This is called allergic conjunctivitis.
Symptoms include :
It may range from mild irritation to severe inflammation impairing vision
If symptoms of eye allergy persist or medications bring no relief, then the doctor will review medical history and make an interrogation over the symptoms. Conduct some tests to ascertain the root cause of eye allergy. The tests include:
Examination with a microscope can detect the swollen blood vessels on the surface of the eyes.
Certain types of white blood cells can be tested that appear on the part of the eyes affected by allergies. This involves gently scraping conjunctivitis (the inner lining of the eyelid)
The 1st and the best approach for treatment is to prevent particularly the seasonal. Perennial form of eye allergy through avoiding the allergens that mainly trigger the symptoms.
Although eye allergy is a type under the broadhead ‘Allergy,’ but again, eye allergy can be further sub-categorized as follows:
It is considered the most common type of eye allergy. Patients experience symptoms (such as itching/ redness/ burning/sneezing/ nasal congestion/ clear watery discharge attended with hay fever and other seasonal allergies) during late winter, spring, summer, or fall depending on the type of plant protection. Patients suffering from SAC may have chronic dark circles (known as allergy shiners) beneath the eye. The eyelids may be puffy, inflamed, and besides bright light may be annoying and irritating. Over and above, the itching may be so severe that patients may rub the eyes frequently, making the symptoms worse and infectious.
The PAC occurs throughout the year (as the name implies). Symptoms may be the same as the SAC but tend to be milder.
It is a more severe eye allergy than SAC or PAC. It may occur throughout the year.
Symptoms may worsen depending on the seasonal variations. About 75% of patients already had either eczema or asthma. Symptoms include itching/ significant tearing/ production of the mucus/ photophobia (aversion to light) /feeling of sensation in the eye as if some foreign body is present.
Caution: If left untreated, it may impair vision.
The allergy primarily affects older people (mostly having a history of allergy dermatitis). Symptoms are severe itching/ burning /redness and more importantly, significant production and deposit of thick mucus, such that after getting up from sleep in the morning, it becomes very difficult to open the eyes as the eyelids are stuck together.
Caution: If left untreated, it may result in scarring of the cornea and its delicate membrane
The eye allergy may result from the irritation caused by the contact lenses. Or by the proteins from the tears that bind to the surface of the glass. Symptoms include redness/ itching/ mucus discharge and more importantly, contact lens discomfort.
GPC is associated with wiring contact lenses. It is a severe form of eye allergy in which case individual fluid sacs/papules form in the upper lining of the inner eyelid. Symptoms include itching/ tearing/mucus discharge/ poor tolerance to wearing contact lenses/ foreign body sensation/ blurred vision (it is the loss of sharpness of eyesight making the objects appear out of focus and hazy. The primary causes of blurred vision are refractive errors., nearsightedness or farsightedness. Blurred vision can affect one or both the eyes)
Seasonal allergies and skin irritants include hand and foot eczema (pompholyx) showing tiny itchy fluids. And blisters on the hands/ fingers/ often the toes and the feet.
As an effective treatment and preventive measure, the alcohol-based cleaner should be used which is less irritant than water and soap and more useful to clean as well as disinfect the hands (preferably, before and after meals)
In addition to adequately aligned upper front teeth, healthy lips are indispensable to gift a pretty smile, which becomes complicated when the lips are swollen in the wake of an allergy reaction. Lips become swollen if fluids build up in the skin tissue or if there is underlying inflammation. This causes them to appear larger (than usual).
Swollen lips have a range of causes that vary from average to potentially dangerous conditions. A host of factors triggers allergies that cause swollen lips:
Conclusively, swelling in the lips is not a severe condition that vanishes on its own within a few days. However, if swelling is painful, then it needs to consult a physician.
Allergy is the prime cause of sore throat. It is often induced by postnasal drip. Sore throat is the result of exposure to an allergen and occurs when congestion in the sinuses drains down the throat.
A sweet smiling face means a happy, peaceful life. So a look without having any injury or allergic reaction is always desirable.
Allergic reactions that affect the face can lead to raised welts in addition to swollen lips and watery eyes. Beauty products and hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis often cause this allergic reaction.
If the patient’s immune system attacks the red blood cells (after receiving blood given by the donor), then it is a case of a Hemolytic reaction. In such a case, one may have an allergic reaction to blood transfusion as well. This can include hives and itching.
When the babies have an allergic condition, it is the result of an inappropriate response by the immune system. Symptoms mostly arrive with a runny nose. Additional symptoms include:
Skin allergies in babies occur when the baby's skin is irritated by some allergen or when the baby produces the chemical histamine (It is a chemical naturally produced by the human body and is found in certain foods) triggered by an allergen. The irritants maybe even dirty drapes/ drool/ soaps/ detergents, which can also cause an allergic reaction in the babies.
It needs to be mentioned that catching a cold in the babies and allergies are not the same. The cold usually subsides within 7- 10 days, but allergies do not.
Percutaneous (or prick test) and intradermal (a thin needle is used to inject the diluted allergen into the skin) are two types of skin tests that apply a diluted allergen to a prick in the top layer of the skin
Using a hypoallergenic moisturizer (after the baby’s bath can help to prevent dry skin. Further, moisturizer also provides a barrier to help protect the skin from irritants. Additionally, using 1% hydrocortisone cream can treat skin rashes relating to eczema or other allergic reactions.
If the patient already has an allergy, then pregnancy can make the situation worse. The pregnant woman must consult a physician before taking the drug to treat allergies. However, for safe and effective treatment, certain antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays can be used.
Conclusively, skin changes during pregnancy are a regular occurrence. And hives during pregnancy are less common. However, hives may occur during pregnancy on account of foods/ insect bites/medicines/ chemicals.
During the dry cold winter season, people may experience varying allergy symptoms on hand, such as
Additionally, pain and itching may also occur. These skin irritation during cold, dry winters occur on different parts of the body, such as:
During the winter season, another form of eczema that hits the hands/ palms/ fingers is dyshidrotic eczema (pompholyx) which is related to allergies as well as stress
As an effective treatment and preventive measure against allergy irritation on hand skin, the alcohol-based cleaner should be used, which is less irritant than water and soap and more useful to disinfect the hand.
Read more: What Causes Allergy Season in Virginia?
A food allergy is a condition in which certain foods trigger an abnormal immune response. Veritably, food intolerances are often mistaken for food allergies. However, food intolerances never involve the immune system. As such, food intolerance may impact the quality of life. But it is never life-threatening.
Many symptoms that are usually experienced during food allergy include:
Food allergy is caused by the immune system wrongly recognizing some of the proteins in foods as harmful when the body launches a range of protective measures including releasing the chemicals (like histamine, which causes inflammation).
For patients having a food allergy, a small amount of specific food protein can trigger an alarming allergic reaction.
Symptoms resulting from the body’s immune system make the antibody known as Ig E (Immunoglobulin E), which reacts to certain foods. And is found most common among infants and children. The foods causing allergic reaction mainly include: egg/ milk/ tree nut/ peanut/ soy/ wheat with symptoms : skin rash/ itching/ rash/ hives/ swelling of lips, tongue, throat/ shortness of breath/ trouble in breathing/ whizzing/ stomach pain/ vomiting/ diarrhea. Sometimes, allergy symptoms are mild, and in some other times, they are severe.
Most symptoms of non-Ig E (Immunoglobulin E)) involve the digestive tract that invites vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of no- Ig E may take a longer time to develop and lasts longer than Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction system.
Sometimes, an allergic reaction to food allergens occurs three days after taking the food. In such a type of allergic reaction, medication is not needed. Usually, the best procedure to prevent and fight such kind of allergic reaction is to avoid and stay away from the foods that cause an allergic reaction.
An allergy to cow milk is the most common food allergy among babies and young children. About 2%- 3% of babies and toddlers are affected. However, about 90% of the children will outgrow the condition when they are three years or over. The cow milk allergy can occur in the case of both Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction conditions. And non-Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction condition. Reaction swoops on the children with Ig E allergy within 5- 30 minutes of ingesting cow milk. Symptoms experienced include swelling /rashes /hives/vomiting and in rare cases anaphylaxis (it is a severe life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic allergic reactions occur in foods/ insect stings/ medications/ latex)
A non-Ig E medicated food allergic reaction usually has more gut-based symptoms (like vomiting/ constipation/diarrhea as well as inflammation of gut wall) and additionally, it can be challenging to diagnose. Because sometimes the symptoms can suggest an intolerance and there is no valid blood test for this.
Conclusively, cow milk allergy mostly affects children under three years. Secondly, an accurate and useful diagnosis of cow milk allergy implies that the only option is to stay away from cow milk as well as milk products (foods and drinks).
Egg allergy is the 2nd most common cause of allergy in children (followed by milk). However, 68% of the children having egg allergies will outgrow the problem by the time they attain 16 years. Egg allergy symptoms include digestive problems causing stomach ache/ skin reaction (hives or rash) / respiratory difficulty) /anaphylaxis (which is rare)
Conclusively, It is possible to be allergic to egg white (but not to egg yolk) in some cases. Again in some other cases, just the reverse may occur (one is allergic to egg yolk, but not to egg white). Because protein content in egg yolk and egg white are different.
Secondly, most of the allergies produced by the eggs are on account of egg white. This is why the egg white allergy is found more common. Thirdly, like other allergies, the only treatment for egg allergy is to take egg-free diets.
Some of the nuts and seeds can cause tree nut allergies. The tree nuts include: Brazil nut/ Almonds/ cashews/ macadamia nuts/ pistachios/ pine nuts/ walnuts. So, patients with peanut allergies will also be allergic to tree nut products.
Caution: It is essential to avoid all types of tree nuts, even though only 1 or 2 types cause allergy. Because, unlike other allergies, a tree nut allergy is a lifelong condition and is responsible for more than 50% of anaphylaxis deaths.
The patients always need to carry Epipen. It is potentially a life-saving device that allows those with tree nut allergies to inject themselves with a shot of adrenaline, which is a naturally occurring hormone.
Like tree nuts, peanut allergies also can invite severe and fatal allergic reactions. The actual cause of peanut allergy is still unknown. But the patients had a family history of peanut allergy at higher risk.
Diagnosis involves: recording the patient’s personal and family history/ skin prick test/ blood test/ identifying the food challenges. Emergency and effective treatments include avoiding the peanut as well as the peanut products.
The allergic response occurs due to one of the proteins found in the wheat. It is most common among children (below 10 years). Like other allergies symptoms include: digestive disorder/ vomiting/ hives/ rashes/ anaphylaxis in severe cases.
A wheat allergy is often diagnosed with skin prick testing. Avoiding wheat products is the only treatment option.
Soy allergy affects about 0.4% of children ( age below three years). A protein triggers the allergy in soybean. Symptoms Include: itchy tingly mouth/ runny nose/ rash/ asthma/ breathing difficulty/ anaphylaxis in rare cases.
Conclusively, the babies who are allergic to cow milk, are also allergic to soy. Like other allergies, the best treatment option is complete avoidance.
The allergy is caused by the body attacking proteins from the shrimp. And mollusk families of fish known as shellfish (examples are: shrimp/ prawn/ Crayfish/ lobster/ scallop). Allergy symptoms usually arrive quickly and are similar to other Ig E food allergies (like vomiting/ diarrhea/stomach ache)
Conclusively, shellfish allergy symptoms do not resolve over time. So, the most effective treatment is to exclude shellfish from the diet list. Surprisingly, even the vapors coming out from the cooking shellfish can trigger and aggravate the allergic reaction of those who have already allergies.
Fish allergy is found common among 2% of adults. Like a shellfish allergy, fish allergy can cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Primary symptoms include diarrhea/ vomiting/ anaphylaxis in rare cases.
Conclusively, since shellfish and fish with fins don’t carry the same protein, so patients who are allergic to shellfish, may not be allergic to fish.
The allergy tests are various exams performed by a trained allergy specialist to detect whether the body has an allergic reaction to a known substance. These are skin tests/ blood tests/ elimination tests. Most allergy tests are performed in the hospital.
Everything should be disclosed to the allergist about the time when the allergy symptoms were experienced first. Because the symptoms usually disappear in the 1st 24 to 48 hours. So everything should be reported to the specialist well in time, including the medicines if taken and since when and how long. The medicines that need to be stopped 5 days before the test include: Alavert/ Allegra/ Cetrizine/ Claritin/ Clarinex/ Desloratadine/ Doxepin/ Fexofenadine. As regards the drug Antihistamine, it should be discontinued 3- 7 days before the test.
In general, allergy skin tests are reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances. A skin test may help diagnose food allergies.
Conclusively, since food allergies are sophisticated, additional tests also may be needed.
The blood test measures the presence of Ig E (Immunoglobin E) antibody, which is strongly linked to the body’s allergy response. The accepted normal range of Ig E is (150-300 ul /ml). Previously, the test was called RAST (Radio-allergy sorbent test) which uses radioactivity. But the new test does not. RAST is a blood test to detect specific Ig E antibodies to determine the substance (causing the allergic reaction). On the other hand, an Allergy skin test determines the allergy (by the response of a person’s skin to different substances)
An allergy blood test detects and measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood. The antibodies control the cells in the body to release certain chemicals. These chemicals are those that cause allergy symptoms Conclusively,
Accuracy of allergy skin test seldom invites false-negative results (which implies erroneous conclusions indicating that the “patient is not allergic to a food, even though he is”)
So, it is a skin test, which is the best test to diagnose food allergies.
Immunotherapy: The allergist (the specialist) provides immunotherapy (it is a type of therapy that prevents or treats the disease with the substance which stimulates the immune system) in the form of allergy shots/ oral tablets/allergy drops. These are considered disease-modifying treatments. Veritably, they don’t cure allergies. But they can significantly reduce sensitivity to allergies and thus reduce allergy response.
Antihistamine: The drug prevents symptoms (such as hives) by blocking histamine receptors so that the body does not react to allergens.
Decongestants: The drug helps to clear the nose and is especially useful for seasonal allergies.
Exposure to animal dander (it is dead skin that is continually shed by the animals)/ animal urine/ saliva can cause human allergic reactions to animals. Examples of allergy symptoms include itchy eyes/ runny nose/ rash. These symptoms may take a severe turn to asthma/ rhinitis/ eczema.
Cat allergy in humans is an allergic reaction to one or more allergens produced by the cats.
Treatment includes developing certain healthy habits in addition to medications.
There is no treatment of allergic reactions to the cat. Immunotherapy may help increase tolerance. It includes getting allergy shots once or twice weekly (up to 6 months). Then monthly boosters for 3- 5 years may be continued.
Steam cleaners provide a chemical-free way of cleaning and killing dust mites/bacteria/cat allergens.
Quick wash after petting the cats is essential.
Dogs produce a variety of proteins causing allergies. The highest concentration of proteins is in the dog’s saliva. When exposed to a dog’s saliva, allergy to dogs occurs with symptoms that include: rash/ hives/ watery eyes. However, in many cases, symptoms are mild. Veritably, dog dander (dog’s skin cell) in the air can linger for a long time and can stick to household items (such as furniture/ curtains/ bedding/ carpets). The best way to prevent and fight dog allergies is to avoid contact with the dog. If it is not possible, then the following home remedies may be applied.
Treatment to cure dog allergies include
Conclusively, allergy in animals embraces a vast area of multiple issues. Animal allergy is confined not only to a human allergic reaction to animals. There is also another side of the coin. Different allergy reactions (such as food allergy/ flea allergy /dust mite allergy) also hit and harm the animals as well.
The most common cause of food allergy in the dogs include: beef/ mutton/ wheat/ corn/ soy/ dairy products/eggs/chicken. Occasionally, chemicals (such as preservatives/ additives/ food dyes also play a key role.)
FAD (Flea Allergy Dermatitis) is an eczematous itchy skin disease of dogs and cats. Affected animals develop allergic reactions to chemicals existing in the flea saliva.
Hypersensitivity to house dust mites is a common health problem for dogs and cats. House dust mites are microscopic. They feed on animal (as well as human) dander skin scales and hair. It is often impossible to eliminate the insects from the environment (inside or outside the house) to save an allergic patient (man or animal)
Symptoms of allergies get worse at night. Because during the day time, pollen's are pushed into the air by warmer temperature. But they become healthy and active at night. If one suffers from seasonal pollen allergy, this could be why one sneezes more at night.
Patients who are more prone to asthma. May have more exacerbations of asthma symptoms if the allergies are not treated well in time. In that case, it may adversely affect the quality of life. Negligence delay in treatment of allergies can also trigger sinus and ear infections since mucus is a suitable breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
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