All About Allergies

March 31st, 2016
All About Allergies

Allergies. They are a bother to everyone, but how much do you actually know about them?

Allergies are a form of hypersensitive reaction where your immune system overreacts, leading to discomfort, damage and possible death. The reaction is produced within 5 – 10 minutes once you have come in contact with the specific allergen.

Allergies are caused from the interaction with a specific allergen with a chemical in the body known as IgE. IgE is found in certain cells located in the immune system. Plasma cells produce IgE when you first come into contact with the allergen – the cells in the immune system cause other chemicals to be produced which lead to allergy symptoms.

Most common allergies are:

  • Asthma – a condition which approximately 9.4% of the UK population suffers from. Symptoms of asthma are wheezing, airways becoming tight causing shortness of breath and restriction of air flow. Symptoms will gradually get worse towards night and a night time cough may be present. Inhalers are mostly subscribed as a form of treatment.
  • Food allergies – Most common of the food allergies are dairy, eggs, nuts, soya and wheat. Signs and symptoms include vomiting, cramps or diarrhoea. Nuts, milk and eggs can also cause anaphylactic shocks which could be fatal. If the allergen is orally a problem then then avoiding the allergen will be a main treatment but also antihistamines could be useful.
  • Pet allergies – this is where the hair, secretion, urine or saliva that pets produce could trigger the symptoms. The symptoms include irritation to the eye/urticarial or eczema. The best treatment is to either avoid any contact with the animal or remove it.

There are numerous factors to determine whether someone has an allergy. Studies show that it is more likely to inherit characteristics as is one parent has the allergy that there is a 25-40% chance their child will also have said allergy. There is a greater risk is both parents are atopic causing a rise into 50-75%. The brutality and timing of the allergy can also be a factor:

  • Age of when you first encountered the allergen – the younger the more likely.
  • Infections when you are first exposed as they can damage internal linings meaning more of the allergen can enter the body.
  • Immune disorders – if you have a weak immune system then the body cannot repair itself efficiently causing allergens to enter cells.

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