Understanding Allergies

 

What Is An Allergy?

An allergy is an immune system reaction to a generally harmless trigger (allergen). These may include pollen, animal dander, mold, certain foods and other allergens which can irritate your skin.

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What Happens During an Allergic Reaction?

When you come into contact with an allergen either by inhaling, swallowing, or getting it on your skin the body will respond by releasing antibodies. These are proteins that try to protect your body by stopping the substance.

During this process histamine and other chemicals are released and this is what triggers the allergy symptoms that we are all familiar with.

These antibodies target one allergen only and this is why it is possible to be allergic to one substance and not another. (For example you can be allergic to peanuts but not to sea food)

 

Some Of The Most Common Allergens Include:

  • Animal dander
  • Bee stings
  • Prescription medications such as penicillin
  • Dust Mites
  • Foods such as peanuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, wheat milk and soy
  • Common insect bites
  • Latex and other materials
  • Mould
  • Plants and pollens

 

Common Symptoms

Your symptoms will vary depending on the amount and type of exposure. E.g. were you stung or bitten by an insect, or was the allergen swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

If you have inhaled an allergen or absorbed something through the skin common symptoms may include:

  • Watery, irritated eyes
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Feeling generally ill or tired
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)

 

Food Allergies May Cause:

  • Feeling generally ill or tired
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • diarrhea

 

Reactions To Insect Bites Or Stings May Include:

  • Pain and swelling at the site of the sting
  • Mild symptoms may be almost unnoticeable to just feeling a little off – you may have similar symptoms to a cold or flu

 

Allergy Symptoms Can Be Mild To Extreme

 

Treatment For Mild Allergy Symptoms

Types of Allergy Medications, both over the counter and prescription.

 

Antihistamines

When the body releases histamine it causes symptoms such as rashes, sneezing and a runny nose. If you take an antihistamine before you are exposed to an allergen it can help prevent these symptoms, if taken after it can reduce the severity.

 

Decongestants

An antihistamine will not help a stuffed up nose, for this you will need a decongestant.

 

Anticholinergic Nasal Allergy Sprays

If you have a runny nose you may need an anticholinergic medication.

 

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays (corticosteroid nasal sprays), are anti-inflammatory medicines sprayed into the nose to help minimize symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.

 

Allergy Eye Drops

Allergy eye drops are used to treat the different allergy symptoms involving the eyes – itchy, watery eyes etc.

 

Leukotriene Inhibitors

Minimize sneezing, itchy eyes, reduce nasal congestion and inflammation in your airways.

 

Mast Cell Inhibitors

Work well to prevent allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and runny nose.

Read More 

 

Extreme Allergy Symptoms

  • Anaphylaxis

The most severe reaction you can have is anaphylaxis. This is a life threatening condition and you must call an ambulance or seek professional medical help immediately.

If there is an epinephrine auto injector available follow the directions and use it immediately.

anaphylaxis injector

Symptoms can include:

  • Itching skin and hives
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Bluish tint to lips
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Altered level of consciousness E.G. confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Unconsciousness

Remember:

Any reaction that affects the breathing in any way can be life threatening so get professional medical help immediately.


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