Allergy: Know the Basics

Allergy: Know the Basics


We know by now that we need to eat the right foods, need to work out, and do stuff that is healthy for us. Because maintaining good health does not happen by accident, it requires work and smart lifestyle choices. But sometimes when we wake up at 6 am to hit the gym before work or shunning the donuts in breakfast, it’s easy to lose sight of for what are we doing all these. So here are some top articles choices that can keep you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep diseases at bay.

Allergy: Know the Basics

Allergy is a type of hypersensitivity disorder of immune system. If a person is allergic to a substance (known as allergen) he/she will develop allergic reaction to that particular substance, which is harmless to other persons. Common allergic reactions which an individual may encounter are asthma, hay fever, eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis), reactions to venomous stings of insects such as bees and wasps.

Symptoms of allergy:

The symptoms of allergy depend on the type of allergy you suffer from and also depend on the allergen and the body system it involves. In majority of cases of allergy the symptoms are generally mild and cause nuisance and irritation, although sometimes allergy can be life threatening such as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic reaction.

Some examples of different types of symptoms that are caused by different types of allergies are given below:

  • Many allergens are airborne such as pollen and house dust and they come in contact with nose, lungs and eyes and produce related symptoms such as allergic rhinitis, sneezing, hay fever, tearing and redness of eyes etc. Airborne allergens when inhaled may trigger asthmatic attacks and cause severe narrowing of airway and difficulty in breathing, cough (due to mucus in lungs), wheezing etc.
  • Allergy due to food may cause tingling in mouth swelling lips, tongue, face, throat etc. In extreme cases of food allergy anaphylaxis may result.
  • Allergy due to medication may cause skin rash, hives, itching, edema of face, wheeze, anaphylaxis (penicillin on rare occasion may cause anaphylaxis) etc.
  • Anaphylaxis causes symptoms such as hypotension, weak and thready pulse, loss of consciousness, difficulty in breathing due to severe narrowing of airway (bronchoconstriction), nausea, vomiting, skin rash etc. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency and if not treated promptly, may cause death.

Causes of allergy:

The factors which causes allergy can be due to host factors such as genetics, race, age etc. or may be due to environmental factors such as pollution, level of allergens, exposure to infectious agents during childhood, recent dietary changes etc.

Diagnosis of allergy:

Diagnosis of allergy is essentially the identification of offending agent or ‘allergen’. Most commonly used diagnostic tool for allergy is skin testing, which identifies the allergen-specific IgE (Immunoglobulin-E) antibodies. Skin testing is preferred over blood allergy test due to higher sensitivity and specificity of skin test, cost effectiveness and ease to use.

Treatment of allergy:

The best treatment of allergy is to avoid the allergen if it can be identified. Problems in treatment arise if allergen can not be identified. Drug therapy of allergy includes use of anti allergic medications such as antihistamines, glucocorticoids, cromolyn sodium, adrenalin, theophyllin etc. Desensitization is a form of immunotherapy which is being used increasingly in allergy treatment, which involves exposure to gradually increasing dose of allergen, till the person become insensitive to it.

Prevention of allergy:

There is no effective way at present to prevent allergy. The only way to prevent is to avoid allergen, which is also the most effective treatment.

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