What are Allergies?
Allergies are described as abnormal responses within the body to things or substances that are typically harmless. However, this incorrect response causes the immune system to react to the substance (known as allergens) as if it was harmful. The symptoms of allergies can make you feel miserable and rotten! It is a good idea for any allergy sufferer to get to know which allergens you are allergic to so that you can control the symptoms.
Allergies are extremely common and affect more than 20 percent of adults and children in the United States. According to the Allergy Report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. It usually develops during childhood or early adulthood. Most allergies are inherited and people are more likely to have a tendency to be allergic if there is a family history of allergies or asthma.
Sometimes, people with allergies may experience a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. The signs of anaphylaxis may start with severe itching of the eyes or face and develop into more serious symptoms such as swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, and angiodema (hives in the throat). This type of reaction usually occurs within minutes after been exposed to the triggering allergen (such as a peanut). It is a rare, life-threatening emergency and medical attention is required immediately.
The most common allergens
Airborne particles: Airborne particles are the most common allergens, often also referred to as environmental allergens. These allergens include pollen from grass or trees, dust mites that live in house dust, mold spores found in damp areas, and animal dander from the skin and saliva of pets. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, wheezing and coughing, congestion, and itchy watery eyes.
Foods: Certain foods such as milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood are some of the most common food allergies. Allergic reactions to these types of foods occur within minutes of eating and symptoms can be severe. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, hives, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling in the area around the mouth.
Insect bites or stings: The venom in insect bites or stings causes allergic reactions in people which result in pain, swelling, and redness around the affected area. Symptoms also include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, throat, or mouth, wheezing or difficulty swallowing, hives that appear as a red, itchy rash that spreads to areas, restlessness and anxiety ; rapid pulse; and dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure. These types of allergies are very severe and may cause an anaphylactic reaction in some people.
Chemicals: Certain chemicals such as household cleaners, laundry detergents, cosmetics, pesticides, or dyes can also cause allergic reactions in some people. Common symptoms include skin rash hives, eye tearing and irritation, wheezing, and itching of the skin.
Medicines: The most common medicines that can cause allergic reactions are antibiotics. Other medications such as over-the-counter medications can also cause allergic reactions.