Is your nose always stuffy, and do you often experience sore throat? Is it a series of bad luck attached to you or just an allergic reaction? Well, fret not. It is actually a response of your immune system that leads your body to react. Therefore, it is an “allergy”.
Allergies have become quite popular these days. You all must have developed allergies many times in your life. But, you are often clueless about what causes allergies and how to deal with them. So, let us understand what an allergy is, what causes it and how we can deal with it.
What is an allergy?
An allergy develops when your immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain substances, such as foods, dust, pollen or medications. Allergic reactions may occur anywhere in your body -in the gut, skin, sinuses, eyes, or nasal passages; when your immune system overreacts to substances, it views them as a harmful invader. Once the allergic reaction occurs, it causes inflammation and irritation.
The substance that causes allergy is known as an allergen. The most common allergens are found in pollens, environmental fungi, dust mites, animal dander, and some foods and drugs.
How does allergy occur?
It so happens that your antibodies become active as soon as you come in contact with an allergen and start trying to remove these allergens from your body. As a result, a chemical named Histamine is released, and it sets off an allergic reaction in the form of inflammation, redness and swelling, which is irritating and uncomfortable. You will experience different symptoms depending on the allergen and where it enters the body. Here is the list of some common parts of the body that are usually affected:
Nose, eyes, sinuses and throat
When you breathe in allergens, the lining of the nose starts producing more mucus and becomes swollen. As a result, you develop a runny and irritating nose and may also experience violent sneezing. In addition, your eyes may start to water, and you may also get a sore throat.
Lungs and chest
In many people, asthma is triggered during an allergic reaction. For example, when an allergen is breathed in, it leads to difficulty breathing as the passage of the lungs swells.
Stomach and bowel
Many food items cause allergies, like peanuts, seafood, milk and eggs. They may cause upset stomachs or diarrhoea.
Many people develop skin reactions like itching, swelling or redness when they come in contact with an allergen.
What causes allergies?
Have you ever wondered why you can’t enjoy beautiful weather whereas others always go outdoors in pleasant weather? Moreover, you may see people enjoying the endless variety of food whereas you are so choosy and selective of what you eat.
Allergies can develop at any point in a person’s life. In many cases, allergies are inherited from parents, while others develop allergies with no family history. Researchers have suggested that family history and genes are some of the factors that you may develop an allergy. It is also a proven fact that an unhealthy gut makes us susceptible to allergies related to food. An unhealthy gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the bloodstream. The immune system launches an attack on these toxins, which creates inflammation and allergies throughout the body. But there are other factors as well that are involved in the development of allergies. These factors include the surrounding environment, eating and lifestyle habits. Some of these are:
- Exposure to smoke
- Exposure to farm animals and products
- Domestic cats and dogs
- Viral infections
- Air pollution
Common allergens and their symptoms
Now that you know what an allergy is, what body parts it affects and how it is caused, you might be interested to know what causes allergies and what the common allergens are that you may relate with. Below are some allergens and the symptoms they may cause in people with an allergy.
1. Dust and pollen
It causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of your nose. You may experience:
- runny or congested nose
- itchy eyes and nose
- swollen and watery eyes
- a cough
Allergies from food develop when your body forms a specific antibody to a particular food. The most common foods likely to cause allergy in adults and children are shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy and wheat. An allergic reaction occurs within minutes of eating the food, and symptoms can be severe. These include:
- a swollen tongue
- tingling or itchiness in the mouth
- swelling of the lips, face, and throat
- stomach cramps
- shortness of breath
- rectal bleeding, mainly in children
3. Insect Sting
If you get a bee or an insect sting, allergy includes:
- significant swelling at the site of the sting
- a sudden drop in blood pressure
- itchy skin
- dizziness or shortness of breath
- a red and very itchy rash that spreads across the body
- a cough or tightness of the chest
Sometimes there is an allergy to a particular compound present in medicine which may cause:
- a rash, redness or itchiness,
- swelling of the tongue, lips, and face
Some people develop a latex allergy after coming in contact with latex. Rubber gloves, used in surgery or home cleaning, constitute a significant source of causing this type of reaction. Allergic reactions to latex can be mild, such as skin redness and itching.
6. Animal dander
Pet allergy is an allergic reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva or urine. People having pets may develop pet allergies. Signs of pet allergy include:
- hay fever
- sneezing and runny nose
- signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent an allergic reaction. Allergies can’t be cured, but symptoms can be controlled using a combination of measures and medications. So, you can take the following steps to avoid an allergic reaction:
- Avoid exposure to the allergen
- Avoid food items that cause allergies
- Consult your doctor if exposed to an allergen
- Take a healthy diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Keep your gut healthy by consuming probiotics and probiotics
- Avoid alcohol and smoking