An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts abnormally to harmless substances in the environment. The substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and can occur rapidly.. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from mildly uncomfortable to life threatening.
Many people suffer from mild allergies like hay fever. Symptoms may arise including; red eyes, feeling itchy, runny nose, hives, or an asthma attack. In some people, severe allergies to environmental, dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies and insect venom can result in these reactions. In order to diagnose allergic conditions tests like placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling are conducted. Blood tests are also conducted to see if one suffers from allergies.
Common allergens include dust and pollen found in airborne particles. These allergies are more commonly present in the spring when there is a greater amount of pollen in the air. Many people also have dietary allergies - a common one is peanuts and the patient may even have a high sensitivity to even the scent. People also have allergic reactions to insect stings, medication and antibiotics such as penicillin.
Symptoms vary depending on what a person is having an allergic reaction too. Some symptoms are as mild as watery eyes, stuffy nose, and itching. Inhaled allergens can lead asthmatic symptoms which result in shortness of breath or wheezing. Some people also have skin allergies like dermatitis or eczema. These allergies cause inflammation of the skin and can cause rashes.
Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, antihistamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, and steroids that can modify the immune system, In general most people who suffer from allergies can successfully manage them through the use of medications.
If you feel as though you may be suffering from allergies contact your doctor and they can give you a treatment plan or refer you to an allergist.