Allergy: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment
Allergy is a reaction of the body to a certain environment substance. There are different antibodies that our immune system produces. So, these antibodies identify the substances and whether they are harmful or not. So, in some people, these antibodies identify certain environmental substances as harmful even if they are not toxic to others.
This is because everyone’s immune system may develop different antibodies which determine different objects as threats. So, these allergic substances are known as allergens.
How does allergy occur?
The immune system sees a substance as a threat. So, then to protect, the immune system or the body’s defense system reacts to keep the body safe. Now, the antibodies to work on this process induce the release of the chemical histamine. Therefore, this release causes the symptoms of allergy. Further, this response of antibodies causing symptoms is known as an allergic reaction.
Types of Allergy:
There are four types of hypersensitivity reactions:
- Immediate (Type I): The allergy reactions show within seconds or minutes. It can cause severe or life-threatening symptoms. Common symptoms include swelling, breathing problems, bluish skin, and more. This allergy takes place mostly due to pollen, dust mites, insect bites, or foods.
- Cytotoxic (Type II): The symptoms appear in minutes or hours. The antibodies damage the cells to fight the substance. The process is similar to diseases like autoimmune hemolytic anemia, graves’ disease, or Goodpasture syndrome.
- Immune complex-mediated (Type III): It may take several hours to show the symptoms of an allergic reaction. The antibodies react with allergic substances and make antigens or immune complexes such as in serum sickness.
- Delayed hypersensitivity (Type IV): Symptoms may show after hours or even days. Around 12-24 hours is the minimum time for the symptoms to occur. This happens when the T cells are stimulated with the contact of antigen.
Symptoms of allergy:
There are different symptoms of allergies. However, they can be mild, moderate, or severe. But some reactions can be severe and life-threatening known as anaphylaxis. So, different allergy reactions involve:
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Hay fever
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
- Skin redness
However, there are other severe symptoms like:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Uterine cramps
- Severe dizziness, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Throat swelling
- Swelling of lips and mouth
In case of these severe reactions, contact your doctor immediately.
What causes allergy?
Everyone can have allergic reactions due to different substances. Because every antibody detects a substance as a threat differently. Now, we all know that when the body fights with an allergen, it produces symptoms. Therefore, here are some allergens that cause most allergies in people:
- Certain foods like nuts, fish, meat, milk, peanuts, etc.
- Latex or other substance or cloth fabric
- Insect bites or stings like bees or wasp
- Some medications like penicillin antibiotics
- Airborne substances like pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander
- Genetics as parents can pass the allergy to the baby
If you experience any symptoms or allergic reactions, it is better to contact a doctor. Do not wait for the symptoms to go back, especially if they are present for a week. Because the symptoms may return after some time. The diagnosis takes place by checking the symptoms and tests.
These tests help to know the allergen and its effects. The tests include skin scraping and blood tests. There are other procedures for checking severe allergies. The doctor works in laboratories with the skin or blood. So, they use an allergen and see how the antibodies are working with it. So, with these tests, one can know about the effects of allergens. Moreover, they help find better treatment.
Various treatments are available for allergies. These are:
- Avoiding triggers: The first step toward the treatment is to know the allergens. So, avoid these triggers to be safe from allergies.
- Medications: There are different medications for allergies that can help reduce the symptoms. These medications include antihistamines or decongestants. Also, nasal sprays can be beneficial like Nasonex. Moreover, some asthma medications can also alleviate the symptoms like inhaled steroids or oral bronchodilators.
- Immunotherapy: This therapy comes into play when other medications or treatments do not work. Immunotherapy is a series of injections containing allergen extracts. Also, there is oral immunotherapy containing sublingual tablets.
- Epinephrine: This is a treatment or injection that people need to keep with themselves all the time. This medication is for people who have severe or life-threatening symptoms. So, this shot can suppress the symptoms until someone gets proper medical help.
Some people may not take allergies seriously. But people have died because of it. Therefore one must take professional help in case of noticing any symptoms. Some people get an anaphylactic shock which is life-threatening and fatal. This occurs in the case of most severe allergies.
Lastly, if the mild symptoms do not go away with non-prescription medicine, contact your doctor. Call 911 or emergency help in case of severe symptoms like breathing problems.