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Different Types of Allergies
Allergy is one of the most common diseases nowadays, as data shows every fifth person on Earth shows clear signs of allergy.
Allergy is our body’s response to specific, otherwise harmless substances. An allergic reaction begins in the immune system. The main role of our immune system is to protect the human body against “foreign invaders”. However, during the abnormal operation of the immune system, one might experience an allergic (hypersensitivity) reaction to certain substances.
In case of allergy, a special defence mechanism begins in our body. During this defensive response, – or rather overreaction – the otherwise harmless substances will cause painful, unpleasant, or even life-threatening symptoms.
How does a person become allergic?
The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary. It means that allergies can be passed down through the parents’ genes. However, just become either one or both of the parents are showing signs of allergic diseases that does not necessarily meant that all of their kids will definitely get them, too.
However, children born into families where allergies already exist show a higher than average chance of developing allergies themselves. Modern researches imply that over half of children from atopic - hereditary tendency to developing allergic reactions - families will go on to build up an allergy.
Allergies that form and start during childhood are often outgrown, but evidently there are exceptions.
Different types of allergies
Allergies exist in many different forms. The most common allergies include:
- Pollen – Many plants produce airborne pollens as part of their reproduction cycle. These tiny, invisible grains fill the air every spring causing nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose, and itchy eyes.
- Pet dander – Our furry friends can cause serious problems to those allergic to pet dander. Although, opposite to what people think, it’s the not fur itself, but rather the microscopic flecks of dead skin cells that can trigger allergic reactions.
- Dust mites – Millions of allergic people’s other microscopic enemies are dust mites. These invisibly tiny bugs live in our homes and feed on the tiny flakes of skin people shed. Their waste products, the actual allergen, can cause sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and red, itchy or teary eyes.
- Food – Food allergy symptoms are most common with babies and children, but they can show at any age. They can even be developed to foods you have eaten for years with no problems. Therefore it is one of the most dangerous and problematic allergies.
- Medicines – Unfortunately, adverse reactions to certain medicines are also very common and dangerous. It is also risky, because most allergic reactions to drugs do not happen the first time you take a medication, but rather after you’ve been exposed to the medicine once already.
Symptoms of allergy
Allergic reactions can be very different and vary by person. If the allergen – the substance recognised by the body as ‘foreign’ and ‘dangerous’, causing an allergic reaction – is something that can be breathed in, the reaction will most likely affect the nose and lungs. If the allergen is something that would be consumed, the symptoms are most likely to occur in the mouth, stomach or intestines.
The most common symptoms of allergy include:
- shortness of breath
- skin rashes
- swelling of the lips, eyes and face
- itching eyes, lips, throat or the roof of the mouth
- runny nose and eyes
- abdominal cramps and diarrhoea
The most severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, can also be life-threatening.
How to treat an allergy?
There are several allergy treatment options. Although, first, if you’ve never been diagnosed with allergy before, but you are showing signs of allergy all year or the same time every year, the first step it to contact a professional. Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests, and are the most efficient way to diagnose any kind of allergy.
The most common allergy treatments:
- antihistamines and steroids
- allergy shots
- nasal sprays
- lotions and creams – for skin reactions
- immunotherapy – the aim of treatment is to help your body naturally get used to the allergen so it wouldn’t react to it so severely
People with asthma or severe allergies need to see a doctor who is specialist in treating asthma and different allergic reactions. Allergists are experts in that. They can give you proper and personalised advice on treating your allergic symptoms.