An allergy is an inappropriate reaction of the human immune system to allergens that are quite abundant in the environment. This ailment is considered the most common in the modern world. In healthy people, allergens do not cause any symptoms or sensitization.
The immune system is responsible for controlling whether foreign particles can adversely affect health and takes measures to protect the body. The most common allergens are:
- Pollen of plants,
- Dog or cat hair,
- House dust,
- Bee venom,
- Cow’s milk.
The contact of the organism with a specific substance does not immediately cause allergy symptoms. This occurs the next time you come into contact with the allergen.
The best way to diagnose a food allergy is an elimination diet, which consists of excluding the suspect factor from the daily diet. And you need to start an allergy testing. However, to detect asthma, a spirometric test is necessary, which measures the amount of inhaled and exhaled air and performs static and dynamic measurements of this air, taking into account the speed of its flow in the airways.
Medicines such as painkillers and penicillin can also cause allergies. Some people are even allergic to latex, mainly medical personnel who wear latex gloves on a daily basis. There is a certain division of inhalation allergens that is related to the time of exposure to the body.
Types of allergies
Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever is acute allergic rhinitis that occurs mainly in spring or summer; it is caused by pollen of some plants as well as fungi and their spores. Revealed:
- Itchy nose,
- Itching of the throat walls and eyes,
- Bouts of sneezing
- Runny nose with watery discharge
- Watery eyes.
Allergic rhinitis can also occur in the form of non-seasonal rhinitis. Its symptoms are similar to those of hay fever, but occur all year round. Allergy leading to non-seasonal runny nose is most often caused by house dust mites, pet dander and mold spores. In the event of allergic rhinitis, it is first of all necessary to eliminate allergic factors from the patient’s environment and consult an allergist doctor. In some cases, desensitization is possible.
Anaphylactic shock occurs suddenly and consists of problems with many organs. It can occur after blood comes in contact with a foreign protein (blood transfused serum protein) or after eating something to which the person is allergic (peanuts). Then it appears:
- Violent feeling of anxiety
- A feeling of pounding in the chest
- Weakness (during seasonal allergies),
- Itching in the throat
- Cutaneous hives.
The severe allergy may lead to unconsciousness and collapse. It is a condition that is life-threatening and must be treated in a hospital! Food allergy is most common in children. However, it can appear even in a 40-year-old person. Some people have a family history of food allergy. Sometimes it is accompanied by asthma and skin urticaria.
Allergy – general symptoms
Allergy symptoms often resolve spontaneously – until this happens, however, it is necessary to eliminate the sensitizing factor from the daily diet. Food allergy can manifest itself in a mild manner – then there is flatulence, periodic vomiting or diarrhea. In more severe cases, however, it may resemble acute poisoning. It’s especially true for food allergies.
The first time the body comes into contact with an allergen, it starts to produce IgE antibodies and it becomes ready to produce large amounts of immune immunoglobins. Antibodies are able to recognize molecules that are found in our body, such as mold elements in the air.
They perceive it as a foreign molecule that threatens the body and therefore start the process of destroying them. In order to defend itself against the invasion of negative molecules, the body becomes inflamed, manifested, for example, by swelling and rash.
Subsequent contact with the allergen can even lead to anaphylactic shock, the most common symptom of which is rapidly appearing erythema, runny nose and stuffy nose, rash, reddening of the skin, swelling or blisters. It should be remembered that anaphylactic shock can be very dangerous because there is an immediate drop in pressure and thus life-threatening.
We can divide the immune reactions into:
- Type I – immediate, anaphylactic (symptoms appear after 15-20 minutes),
- Type II – cytotoxic,
- Type III – intermediate (immune complexes); occurs after about 6-12 hours,
- Type IV – cellular (tuberculin test performed before tuberculosis vaccination).
Other symptoms that may appear in the course of an allergy are:
- Runny nose,
- Shortness of breath,
- Redness and itching of the eyes
- Watery eyes.
How to recognize an allergy?
Unlike other ailments, the time and circumstances of its occurrence help, because the symptoms of allergies appear only as a result of contact with the allergen. In determining the factor responsible for an allergy, the following helps:
Skin test: confirming that we are dealing with an allergy is not easy. Most often, skin tests and the measurement of specific IgE antibodies are performed for this purpose, but these tests are not always clear. It happens that a patient has a high level of IgE antibodies, but skin tests do not show allergy to any of the popular allergens;
- Serological examination;
- Exhibition trials.
Treatment of allergies
It is impossible to cure an allergy completely, it usually lasts for life, sometimes only the symptoms may disappear. When symptoms worsen, pharmacological treatment is introduced, and patients are advised to avoid contact with allergens (it is important that the patient knows as much as possible about his disease, then the situation of unnecessary exposure to contact with an allergic substance can be avoided).
Unfortunately, in case of allergy to pollen, avoiding the allergen is much more difficult. Specific immunotherapy is used to treat allergies. Desensitization is the process of administering allergen-containing vaccines in an ascending concentration pattern.
The treatment also includes nasal aerosolized corticosteroids and oral inhalers or tablets. Cromoglycans, which have a long-lasting effect, are used as nasal drops and sprays. On the other hand, in patients with bronchial asthma, inhalations from the beta-amimetic group (short-acting) are taken temporarily. You also should use the allergy eye drops.
Allergy significantly worsens the patient’s quality of life, therefore it is important to quickly recognize and implement appropriate treatment. Thanks to this, the quality of life can be significantly improved.
Pollen allergy – how to fight it?
The most important thing is to properly prepare for the pollen season – visit your doctor more often for this. One way is to go to the seaside or to the mountains during this period, because pollination of the same plants occurs at different times in individual regions of the country. In addition, allergy sufferers should constantly monitor the dustiness calendar and implement measures to avoid allergies. Don’t forget about the food allergy testing. Currently, there are special dust filters on the market that protect the rooms in which we are staying.