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Allergies


Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to things that most people don’t notice. Substances that cause allergic reactions, such as certain foods, dust, plant pollen, or medicines, are known as allergens. In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system produces antibodies to the allergen, which then cause the release chemicals into the bloodstream such as histamine. This acts on the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract and causes the symptoms of the allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can be mild, like a runny nose, or they can be severe, like difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, for example, is often an allergic reaction to something that is breathed into the lungs in a person who is susceptible.

A severe allergic reaction is called 'anaphylaxis'. Some of the signs of anaphylaxis are difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body, and dizziness or loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis usually occurs minutes after exposure to a triggering substance, such as a peanut, but some reactions may be delayed by as long as 4 hours. Luckily, anaphylactic reactions don't occur often, and they can be treated successfully if proper medical procedures are followed.

Causes

The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, but not usually the particular allergy itself. This indicates that a specific genetic fault in the immune response may be involved..

Common allergens

Some of the most common allergens are:

Foods. Food allergies are most common in infants and often fade with time. Although some food allergies can be serious, even life threatening, many simply cause annoying symptoms like an itchy rash, a stuffy nose, or diarrhea. The foods that people are most commonly allergic to are dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts, and seafood.

Insect bites and stings. The venom (poison) in insect bites and stings causes allergic reactions in many people. These allergies can be severe and may cause an anaphylactic reaction in some people.

Airborne particles. Airborne particles that can cause allergies in people include house dust mites (tiny bugs that live in household dust); fungal spores; animal dander (flakes of scaly, dried skin, and dried saliva from your pets); and pollen, principally from grass, ragweed, and trees. Reactions to environmental allergens of this type are common.

Drugs. Antibiotics frequently cause allergic reactions but many other drugs may also be allergens.

Chemicals. Some cosmetics or laundry detergents, dyes, household cleaners, and pesticides can cause people to break out in an itchy rash (hives), which is a mild allergic reaction.

Treatment

Allopathic medicine does not have too many answers to treating allergies. Medications are available to control the allergy symptoms (such as sneezing, headaches, or a stuffy nose), but they are not a cure. For example if you are diagnosed with asthma you will issued with a scrip for inhaled vasodilating drugs, which force open the airways but have no effect on root causes.

Severely allergic people will need to keep to hand a shot of epinephrine., This comes in a container that looks like a pen and is a fast-acting prescription-only drug that can help offset an anaphylactic reaction.

Sometimes an allergy can also be controlled by allergen immunotherapy. Repeated injections of small amounts of an allergen can cause the body can gradually develop antibodies and undergo other immune system changes to raise tolerance of the particular allergen involved. Anti-allergy ‘shots’ are most often used for rhinitis and for severe reactions to insect bites and stings. They are ineffective for most allergies (including food allergies) and in any case where the allergen involved has not been identified.

See Asthma for a list of natural remedies that may be helpful for allergies or allergy related conditions.

Avoidance

In some cases, like food allergies, avoiding the allergen is a life-saving necessity. For example, people who are allergic to peanuts should avoid not only peanuts, but also any food that might contain even tiny traces of them.

For some people, eliminating exposure to an allergen is enough to prevent allergy symptoms and there is no need for medication or treatment. Here are some things that can help you avoid airborne allergens:

  • Keep family pets out of rooms such as the bedroom, and bathe them regularly.
  • Remove carpets and rugs from your rooms if you think you may be allergic to house dust mites, and vacuum clean frequently.
  • Use special covers to seal pillows and mattresses if you're allergic to dust mites. It may also be worthwhile to minimise use of heavy curtains, rugs and cushions for the same reason. Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil sprays can both be used to kill dust mites in bedding or upholstery.
  • If you're allergic to pollen, keep windows closed when the pollen season is at its peak, change your clothing after being outdoors - and don't mow lawns! Ionisers can also be useful for reducing airborne particulates, particularly in bedrooms.
  • Avoid damp areas, such as basements, if you're allergic to mould, and keep bathrooms and other mould-prone areas clean and dry.
  • If you suspect you are allergic to chemicals, switch to perfume-free and dye-free detergents, cosmetics, and beauty products (you may see non-allergenic ingredients listed as hypoallergenic on product labels). Use soap for washing, not detergent gels. Avoid contact with household cleaners and garden chemicals whenever possible. Always wear rubber gloves when handling anything suspect (unless you are allergic to rubber!).

 

 

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