Allergy: General description
An allergy is hypersensitivity of the immune system under the repeated allergens effects to a previously sensitized body by this allergen. It can be seen by some signs like red eyes, itchiness, runny nose, eczema, sneezing, coughing etc.In the base of these complaints can be following reasons:
- the excessive sensitivity of the immune system (true allergy)
- abnormal reaction of the body (pseudo-allergy)
The things that cause such signs are called allergens. Allergen is the antigen(antibody generator) which causes allergic reactions to people who are sensitive to it.
Allergens can be divided into several groups depending on the origin:
- Household: home and household dust, chalk, oil products
- Epidermal: wool, fluff, feces, pets saliva, human epidermis
- Insect: micro synanthropic mites, cockroaches, stinging and blood-sucking insects, arachnids;
- Pollen: pollen of different plants, usually grasses, weeds, and trees
- Food: potentially any food product, the high degree of allergenic activity in cow's milk, fish and seafood, egg whites, chicken, strawberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, chocolate, nuts
- Medicinal: any drugs, including antiallergics;
- Fungus: the main component of household dust, more often it's named mold and yeasts
- Helminth: antigens of Ascaris, pinworms whipworm, and other worms.
Fungal allergy is often associated with seasonal asthma.
There is also a seasonal allergy, the allergens of which will depend on season. Usually, it happens during spring, summer or fall. The time during which you can be affected by seasonal allergy is called pollen season because the trees and grasses start to pollinate. So pollen from trees, grasses and weeds are the main cause of this allergy. The time when the pollination happens depends on kind of tree or grass, for example, oak, maple, pine, birch, ash, and elm pollinate in spring. When the grasses such as Bermuda Grass, timothy, and orchard. Grass allergy is also related to hay fever because the symptoms are very similar. In a fall mostly starts the weed pollen season, it includes nettle, ragweed, fat hen, sorrel.
Among the seasonal allergens, there are some that mixed together and create a new type of allergy. For example, grass pollen allergens fuse with allergic reaction on food proteins in vegetables as lettuce, onion, celery etc.
If both parents have allergy, there is 66% chance to a child to suffer from seasonal allergy, and if only one parent – 60%.
Sometimes the allergens can be revealed as particular reasons of this disease. And there are two types of it:
- thermal: wind, cold, light
- moral: nervous breakdown, worries, fear, anxiety.
Signs and symptoms of allergy
Nowadays, allergy is one of the most common diseases, and you cannot underestimate the importance of the problem and the risk of allergies. Early treatment is much more effective than in a period of exacerbation.
The symptoms can be almost invisible (disguised as other diseases so that you are not able to even guess about its presence) but in the same time dangerous and life-threatening. The symptoms will depend on substance involved, it could be eyes, airways, nasal passages, lungs, digestive system and skin and the type of disease.
A food allergy may cause:
- swelling of the lips, tongue, throat
- tingling mouth
The most common hay fever (allergic rhinitis) can be seen by:
- runny, stuffy nose
- itching of the nose or eyes
- watery, red or swollen eyes
- sore throat
- cough or postnasal drip
Insect allergy symptoms are:
- itching or hives
- a large area of swelling (edema) in the place of sting
- cough, wheezing and chest tightness
Medicinal allergy may cause:
- itchy skin
- wheezing, swelling
The reaction called anaphylaxis can create very serious troubles like going into shock and be life-threatening. Signs of anaphylaxis include itchy rash, throat swelling, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, a rapid weak pulse.
In most cases, regardless of where was a contact with an allergen, not only local allergic reaction happens, but the whole body responds.
Emotional, behavioral and mental issues connected to allergy
When we think about this disease the common symptoms come to our mind like sneezing, itchiness, hives, asthma, nausea. But there are some reactions of organism that doesn’t show up so fast or affect different systems than respiratory, digestive or skin.
Some researchers believe that the stress can be a cause of it too. Sometimes when we feel stressed and our nervous system will have respond to it. Negative emotions response is a disturbing balance of the brain system, putting some parts into overdrive and underdrive. In this time, the body produces new hormones which can affect the immune system. If this process will continue for a long time it may cause some problems. Have you ever notice that when you feel stressful, your skin is itching or you sneeze all the time? It might be caused by stress.
Also, stress could play the role of an auxiliary allergen through «oxidative stress pathways». It’s acknowledged that people who suffer from allergy can’t detoxify oxygen molecules that arise from metabolism or from outside toxins such as tobacco smoke or air pollution. And the stress can be added to the factors that make an oxidative toxicity worse and boost airway inflammation.
Sometimes food or chemical allergies can cause emotional, behavioral or mental signs. For instance, panic attacks, depression, compulsive behavior, hallucination, psychotic episodes. Generally, any abnormal reaction to a food or something else that creates emotional, psychological or neurological symptoms is called brain allergy.
For a long time, the understanding of allergy was very limited and doctors didn’t take into consideration mental symptoms because there weren’t evidence that immune system was directly involved in causing such symptoms. Later some researches were conducted in 1990s which prove that there are nervous system allergic reactions.
So mental and emotional symptoms caused by allergy are agitation, compulsions, lack of concentration, anxiety, brain fag, depression, epilepsy, hallucinations, hysteria, irritability, mental slowness, and many others.
Sometimes it happens that the symptoms may be misunderstood as allergies as it was observed during episodes of infectious mononucleosis. It occurs that this disease can be interpreted as penicillin allergy. It might be confused because of the rash of infectious mononucleosis and allergic-type rash plus antibiotics are similar.
Treatment of allergy
Some allergies must be treated with epinephrine as it may be life-saving.
Of course, it’s better to avoid the allergen which cause your allergy, but sometimes it it’s not up to you what you eat or breath. For this, you can take special medication to prevent and treat allergy. The medicine which will be prescribed for you will depend on your symptoms, age, health. Medications that can be used for treating allergy include:
- Antihistamines (pills and capsules, eye drops, liquid, injection, nasal spray),
- Corticosteroids (creams, nasal spray, lung inhaler)
If a person suffers from asthma, it should be recommended other medication like leukotriene inhibitors.
There are cases when a person is unable to avoid allergen or control it, so it’s good to use allergy shots (immunotherapy) as a treatment. It looks like regular injections of allergen and each dose will be larger than previous in order slowly to make person adapted to this allergen.
In order to treat the brain allergy is good to realize the source of it first and focus on it. There is a possibility to try mental fitness which can offer a variety of exercises for improving mental skills.
And the last you should know about is that you always can check if you are allergic to particular substance using allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood test.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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