Allergies: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
One in five Americans suffers from allergies, making them one of the most common health conditions? Allergies can take many different forms and cause a wide variety of symptoms. While many people think of allergies as simply a runny nose, they can cause various symptoms that make life very difficult. Allergic reactions can sometimes be quite serious and even life-threatening, requiring immediate care.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are the body’s response to an allergen, like food, a chemical, or something else. The immune system will try to fight the allergen by producing chemicals that cause inflammation. These chemicals cause the allergic symptom of rash, hives, and other similar conditions.
How Does an Allergic Reaction Occur?
The immune system protects you against foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria. An overreaction of the immune system causes allergies to a substance that is typically harmless to most people. When it encounters an allergen, it mistakenly believes it is a dangerous invader. In response, it produces antibodies that attach to the allergen in an attempt to destroy it. This process causes allergy symptoms.
What Are the Different Types of Allergies?
The different types of allergies include:
- Food Allergies: Allergic reactions to certain foods are caused by the immune system’s overreaction to a protein in the food. Common food allergens include milk, peanuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.
- Drug Allergies: Allergic reactions to certain medications are caused by the immune system’s overreaction to the drug.
- Insect Sting Allergies: Allergic reactions to insect stings are caused by the system’s overreaction to the venom in the insect’s sting. Common insect allergens include bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants.
- Pet Allergies: Your immune system may overreact to the proteins in an animal’s skin, saliva, and urine, triggering an allergic response. Common pet allergens include dogs, cats, horses, and rabbits.
What Are Some of the Allergy Symptoms?
Allergic reactions can cause various symptoms, including sneezing, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, hives, and swelling. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, dizziness, and unconsciousness. It is important to visit ER treatment near you for assistance.
What are the Allergy Treatments?
If you have allergies, several treatments are available to help relieve your symptoms.
- Allergy shots, also called allergen immunotherapy, are a long-term treatment that can be effective for many people. Allergy shots work by exposing a person to increasing amounts of the allergen they are allergic to, which over time can help build up immunity and reduce the severity of symptoms.
- Avoiding allergens is important. Your doctor helps you identify your allergy triggers. This is usually an essential step in avoiding allergic responses and alleviating symptoms.
- Antihistamines, or medicines that are anti-inflammatory, can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Depending on your allergy, medications may decrease the inflammation of your immune system and relieve symptoms. Pills or liquid, nasal sprays, and eye drops might all be prescribed by your doctor.
When is an Allergic Reaction an Emergency?
Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction, and it can be life-threatening. Call 911 or an emergency room in Harker Heights right away if someone has signs of this type of reaction:
- Swelling in the throat or trouble breathing
- A drop in blood pressure
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Hives all over the body
Anaphylactic reactions can happen within seconds to minutes of exposure to an allergen. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) might be recommended if you have severe allergies and haven’t had success with other treatments. Allergy shots are only available from a doctor.
What are the Complications of Allergic Reactions?
There are a few possible complications of allergic reactions, including:
- Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the membranes that line the nose and the inside of the nose. This inflammation can be caused by dust, pollen, or animal dander.
- Asthma is a condition in which the lungs’ airways become narrowed and swollen, making it difficult to breathe. Allergies can cause asthma, but not all people with asthma have allergies.
Visit Express ER for assistance if you experience allergic reaction symptoms.