Commonly referred to as allergic reaction, allergy is your body’s immune system reaction to any substance that occurs in the environment, known as allergen. Occurrence of allergy is both predictable and fast. Scientifically, allergy is a form of hypersensitivity, meaning that your body’s immune system is forced to react to a substance that you breathe in or ends up on your skin and which it considers to be harmful. The action of fighting the substance is through a particular type of white blood cells that produce Immunoglobulin E, an antibody whose duty is to fight allergen. This causes a reaction, which presents itself as allergy.
Types of Allergy
There are basically three classes of allergy. Food allergy is probably the most common especially with children. Some culprit foods include peanuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, eggs, milk and seafood, amongst many others. Fungal allergy is another class of allergy that most people are susceptible to. Fungal allergens are mainly from mushrooms, puffballs and rusts.
Unlike the other two types of allergies, seasonal allergy only occurs at a particular period in a year. These allergies present different symptoms that an allergist or a physician can use for diagnosis. It is however important to point out that you can also suffer from other minor types of allergies such as those caused by medications and insect stings. Another type of allergy is seasonal allergy that is usually caused by allergens that are only available during certain seasons of the year.
Signs and Symptoms
Allergy signs and symptoms can differ from one person to another. The difference can also be brought about by cause of allergy and how severe it is. For airborne allergies for example, one who is not allergic will have the mucus in their nasal cavity move any foreign particles (allergen) to the throat from where such allergens are either swallowed or coughed out. An allergic person will instantly experience certain discomfort in their nasal cavity as a chain of reactions begins.
Generally, allergic reactions range from mild to severe symptoms that require medical attention. Mild symptoms include sneezing that is usually accompanied by running nose, itchy throat, nose, or eyes, conjunctivitis (swelling within the eyes), horse voice, sore throat, congestion within ears, coughing and skin rashes amongst others. In severe cases, one can proceed to develop asthma and will present such symptoms as coughing, wheezing sound while breathing, and shortness of breath, which is brought about by narrowed airwaves. It is worth pointing out that most signs and symptoms of allergy resemble those presented by other diseases and health conditions such as normal cold. Self medication is therefore forbidden without proper diagnosis.
Diagnosing of signs and symptoms of allergy is normally through physical examination. An allergist may also recommend various tests to establish the cause of such signs and symptoms. That is very necessary considering the fact that the same sigs are normally presented by other medical conditions. It is only after proper diagnosis that an allergist or physician will prescribe medications.
Most treatments for allergy signs and symptoms usually aim at eradicating or minimizing the same. It is the cause that is usually treated. Most signs and symptoms are easily combated by antihistamines, nasal decongestants and medicated topical applications in case of skin allergy. Apart from conventional treatment methods, there are also natural or alternative remedies that are very effective at combating the symptoms. These are mostly herbs and herbal supplements.
Simon Parker is an expert when it comes to recognizing the symptoms of allergy in children (interesting to know is that the Danish term is Symptomer på allergi hos børn).