Different allergies – an overview

As many as 50 million people – about 1 in every 5 people – have allergies, some allergies may meddle with day-to-day activities or lessen the quality of life. An allergy is an immune system reaction to an alien substance, although they are not toxic to the body. These alien substances are known as allergens.  They come from different sources such as foods, pet dander or pollen from flowers, the venom from bees, or even food that doesn’t trigger an effect to most people.

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The immune system’s mission is to fight these dangerous pathogens, in turn, keeping you safe and healthy. The immune system produces Antibodies, these antibodies categorize a certain allergen as harmful, though sometimes, these allergens are not harmful, and it is just the immune system’s way of protecting the body.

The process involves the immune system tackling any suspicious attack that could endanger the body system. However, the reactions occur in different ways depending on the allergen, some of the reactions include sneezing, inflammation, and coughing, cold, skin reaction, sinuses, airways or digestive system, among many other symptoms.

The immune system is created in a way that it adapts to any environment it finds itself, for instance, when the body comes in contact with pet dander, the immune system immediately tags it as harmless, but with people with dander allergies, the immune system immediately identifies it as an external intruder threatening the body and attacks it.

The allergic effect varies from person to person and can span from meek or slight irritation to something major and life-threatening as anaphylaxis. Unfortunately, most of these allergies can only be subdued with treatment and medications but cannot be cured. In recent times, people have had to come in terms with having allergies and the reactions that come with it, there are different types of allergens, and sadly some people suffer from more than one allergen. Allergens range from a food allergy, dust mites allergy, pet allergy, latex allergy, hay fever, Anaphylaxis, pollen allergy, and Allergic asthma. We’ll be going through these allergies one after the other.

Pet Allergy

Many people are fond of pet, they keep different pets ranging from puppies to cats, mice, to mention a few, sadly many people are allergic to pets. Allergies to pets are triggered by a protein found in the dead skin cells of animals known as dander, urine or saliva. Many people are allergic to excreta when it comes to birds. The proteins from pets are transmitted on microscopic particles through the air. Thereby triggering an allergic reaction from people when inhaled. Sadly dogs and cats have these proteins making them prone to triggering an allergy. Although some breeds are believed to be more allergy-friendly, probably because they are primed regularly, this is a process that involves the removal of dander, though not totally. As against the fallacy that pet allergy comes from the furs of the pet, and that animals that shed less do not trigger an allergic reaction.

Want to know if you’re allergic to pets, then read further. Mostly pet allergy signs and symptoms are mainly inflammation of nasal passages in adults, these include, sneezing, red or watery eyes, itchy nose, cough, runny nose, facial pressure and pain, blue-colored skin under the eyes, frequent awakening, nasal congestion, while in children the symptoms are minimal, some children may experience frequent upward rubbing of the nose. In some people, their pet allergy leads to asthma, these set of people might have trouble breathing well, and there will be audible wheezing/whistling sound when such persons exhale, chest stiffness or pain, coughing, and trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath.

Anaphylaxis

Severe allergies lead to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening crisis that can lead to loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, and lightheadedness. This allergic reaction needs to be treated with immediate effect, an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot should be administered immediately, as Anaphylaxis can be deadly if left untreated. Epinephrine is like a first aid treatment, it can undo the symptoms within minutes, in a severe situation where the first shot fails, and a second shot might be required, though within half an hour. These shots come with predictions, pre-filled and ready-to-use pens.

However, Anaphylaxis is infrequent, and most people recuperate from it. There is a higher chance of a recurring attack if you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction before and also if there is a history of anaphylaxis or asthma in your family, then there is a higher chance of you having it.  To prevent an unprecedented attack, it is advisable to always wear a pendant or medical alert bracelet or carry a card with information about your allergy, it is also noteworthy to inform your doctors about any drug allergies.

Pollen Allergy

Pollen is one of the most popular triggers of seasonal allergies. This allergy is known by people as “hay fever.” Pollen is termed “seasonal allergic rhinitis” by experts, this is because every season, plants emit tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. People with pollen allergies are triggered when the pollens they are allergic to are in the air. Want to know if you’re allergic to pollen, then check out these symptoms of pollen allergy. They are:  Swelling around the eyes, itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth, runny nose and mucus production, red and watery eyes sneezing, stuffy nose (nasal congestion).

Dust Mites Allergy

This is a form of allergy caused by tiny bugs found in house dust. Dust mite allergy is a popular type of allergy and can be easily managed in most cases. The popular symptoms of dust mite allergy include wheezing and runny nose. Some people with dust mite allergy also shows symptoms of asthma, such as difficulty in breathing and wheezing.

Dust mites allergens come in two ways – firstly, through their waste, this is the waste they produce when they eat, and some people are allergic to this waste. The bodies or body parts of these creatures is the second cause of allergies, this is because as dust mites die, their remnants stay in place. These remnants are the second allergen made during their life cycle. Mostly the symptoms experienced by people with dust mite allergy include: post-nasal drip, itchy throat or nose, red itchy eyes, runny nose, stuffiness, watery eyes, sneezing, and cough. While those who have asthma can be easily triggered by dust mite allergy.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is an immune system reaction that happens soon after eating a particular food. The amount of food digested does not matter as even the smallest portion can trigger an allergic reaction. Some of the signs and symptoms of food allergy include hives or swollen airways and digestive problems.

Food allergies come in two variations, they are: the first is the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated food allergy, the symptoms come from the body’s immune system producing antibodies called (IgE) Immunoglobulin E antibodies. These Immunoglobulin E antibodies react with a particular type of food. The IgE mediated food allergies popular in infants and children are peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat, eggs, and milk. The reaction of food allergy can involve these parts of the body – the mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, guts, brain, and skin.  

These are some of the symptoms experienced: Stomach pain, difficulty breathing,  vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, wheezing, itching, and hives. While the second is the Non-IgE mediated food allergy, this involves other parts of the body’s immune system to react to a particular food. This reaction triggers symptoms but does not require an IgE antibody, some people have both food IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated food allergies. Overall, the best management of allergies is to avoid what triggers it and taking medications to improve the symptoms.  

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5123910/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482187/