What is an allergy?
Allergy is a response of the body’s immune system towards a foreign substance which is usually not harmful to your body. The foreign substance is called allergen and may include pollen, dust mites, pet dander and certain foods. The allergic response can cause symptoms like itching, hives, sneezing, redness and difficulty breathing.
What causes allergy?
The job of our immune system is to protect us from harmful substances like bacteria and viruses. However, when the immune system starts fighting with substances that are usually not harmful to us, it causes allergy. During an allergic reaction, the immune system releases antibodies and histamine which causes symptoms like reddening, sneezing, hives, itching, etc.
Common substances that cause allergy are:
- Certain foods: wheat, milk, peanut, tree nuts, fish, soy, eggs and shellfish
- Airborne allergens: pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold
- Insect bites: bee or wasp
- Medicines: particularly penicillin or penicillin-based drugs
- Latex or other substances: can cause skin reactions
What are the symptoms of allergy?
Symptoms depend on the type of allergen involved and it can affect your airways, nasal passages, skin or digestive system. Most common allergic symptoms may include:
- Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes
- Swelling of lips, tongue or face
- Chest tightness
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction)
What are the risk factors for allergy?
- Family history of allergies or asthma
- Asthma or any other allergic condition
What is Allergic March?
In some children, different allergies occur in a specific order as they get older. It usually starts with eczema, the food allergies and then Hay fever. This is called the allergic march.
How is allergy diagnosed?
- Asks questions about the signs and symptoms
- Performs a physical exam
- Have you maintain a diary of symptoms and all the possible triggers
The doctor may also recommend the following tests:
Skin test: your skin is pricked by the doctor to expose you to small amounts of proteins present in potential allergens. If you are allergic, you may develop a raised bump at the test site on your skin.
Blood test: This test is done to estimate the amount of allergy-causing antibodies present in the blood stream known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.
What is the treatment for allergy?
The treatment plan may include:
Avoidance of allergen: Your doctor will guide you on how to identify and avoid allergy triggers. Generally, this is the most important step in preventing allergy.Medicines: Depending on the type of allergy and its symptoms, the doctor prescribes medicines to ease the symptoms.
Immunotherapy: In the case of chronic or severe allergies, the doctor may recommend immunotherapy. It involves a series of injections (allergy shots) of allergen extract over several years so that the body slowly gets used to it and eventually the symptoms reduce.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe life-threatening allergic reaction which can occur within seconds of exposure to something you are allergic to, such as fish or bee stings. In this condition, your immune system releases a flood of chemicals that sends your body in a state of shock. The blood pressure drops, airways narrow down which interferes with breathing. Symptoms may include rapid, weak pulse, skin rashes, swelling of tongue and face and difficulty breathing.
Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention including prompt injection of epinephrine and a visit to emergency care at any hospital/clinic. If it is not treated promptly and appropriately, it can be fatal.
Accurate diagnosis and proper management of allergy are important to lead a peaceful life. An allergist/ immunologist is a specialist doctor, trained in diagnosing and treating allergies. Therefore, if you or your loved one is suffering from allergy, book an appointment with our expert allergist at RxDx Multispeciality Clinic.
For further details, please contact: 080-49261111, 6745-8111
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