Allergies : Know The Basics

Allergies come in different forms, some of which are: sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and skin, wheezing, and rash. They can be as a result of seasonal change, food, medication or animal dander i.e. skin or fur.

An allergy is a disorder of the immune system causing adverse reactions to substances (known as allergens) not harmful to most. It is marked by the body’s production of histamines.

The work of the immune system is to keep you healthy by attacking and protecting you from harmful foreign substances and pathogenic organisms. In the case of an allergy, the immune system mistakes harmless substances for harmful substances, thereby releasing histamine into the body which can result in inflammation, sneezing and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.

Allergies are common and the best way to prevent them is by avoiding their triggers.

Triggers and Likely Symptoms

Allergy triggers are called allergens. Some common allergens are:

1. Animal products : bee stings, pet dander, insect bites, dust mites

2. Food : especially eggs, nuts, wheat, milk, fish etc.

3. Medications : penicillin, quinine

4. Plants : pollen and resin from plants like poison ivy

5. Mold, latex, etc.

Symptoms include itchy eyes and skin, rashes, running nose, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, swelling, redness of skin, and sneezing.

Depending on the way your body reacts, an allergy attack may be mild, severe or even life-threatening.

The most severe type of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis. Some of its symptoms are: difficulty in breathing, itching all over, wheezing, loss of consciousness. It affects your whole body and is life-threatening. If these symptoms are noticed, seek medical attention immediately.

If you have an epinephrine auto-injector, use it and repeat after 5 to 15 minutes if your symptoms haven’t improved. However, medical care will still be needed even after you give yourself the shots, because a delayed reaction could happen.