Understanding Allergies

Understanding Allergies

The word “allergy” refers to an usual or changed tissue reaction after it is exposed to an allergen or antigen. An allergy occurs when the body loses its defenses and as a result becomes too sensitive, making it susceptible to reaction. An allergy can take place anywhere, as it is caused by a range of triggers and the body’s attempt to seek and destroy the allergen brings on symptoms associated with an allergic reaction. The severity of the allergy determines the kind of symptoms you display. The symptoms of a mild allergy are watery eyes and a runny nose. Rashes and itching are the symptoms of a moderate allergy, while anaphylactic shock (which causes the throat to close up) and an asthma attack are the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

The basic categories of allergies are contact, inhalant and food allergies. Pollens, cosmetics, animal hair, dust, vaccines, serums and drugs are some of the known inhalant allergens. Nuts, milk, egg, soy and wheat are some of the known food allergens. Sometimes, you may have an allergic reaction to over exposure to an insect bite, heat, cold or sunlight; these are known as contact allergens. Rather unlikely, but still a trigger for an allergic reaction could be any form of stress, be it physical or mental.

Your genetics play a large role in determining how prone you are to an allergic reaction. Some scientists believe that many allergic reactions are caused by a gene that promotes production of a protein called Interleukin-4. This study also showcases that African-Americans have very high levels of Interleukin-4 as well as higher rates of asthma and allergies, when compared with any other ethnic group.

A range of risk factors which determine whether you’re more likely to develop allergies would include the following: exposure to an allergen at an early age, having a parent with nasal allergies, birth during a high pollen season, premature birth, growing up in a house with cigarette smoke, babies being bottle fed instead of breast fed

If you suspect you or your child has an allergy, ask your doctor about allergy tests. You may not be familiar with these tests, so be sure to ask a lot of questions and be sure to know what allergies your doctor is testing you for. Monitor your allergies; make sure to make a note of when and where they occurred, the degree of your reaction, a description of your symptoms and possible causes. This process will help your doctor to accurately diagnose you and further cure what ails you.

Common methods of preventing an allergic reaction include: avoid foods you react to, keep your environment clean and dry: this will ensure there are no moulds that you could react to, avoid daily exposure to chlorine and other chemicals, avoid cleaners and cosmetics with chemicals and additives, ask your doctor if a combination of medicines is giving you an allergic reaction- change them on his advice.

A large number of sufferers try to avoid antihistamines and decongestants, as they have a large range of side effects, such as drowsiness, restlessness, dizziness, upset stomach and nervousness. It has been noted that long term usage of anti histamines renders them less powerful. This is caused by the fact that your body has begun to build up tolerance to these drugs. Over a period of three months, the drugs stop working completely and its effectiveness is reduced exponentially. Ensure that your doctor changes your antihistamine prescription every three months. If traditional medicine isn’t your cup of tea, you could choose to opt for complementary medicine like acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, biofeedback, dietary supplements, visualization and meditation.

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