How do people know that it’s spring time? New plants sprout through the soil and trees leaf out and bloom but so does your allergy. This is usually that time of the year when most people walk around with a tissue in hand or medicine because they are battling an allergy.
For some people however, an allergy can be a lifelong problem that manifests itself anytime one is exposed to an allergen. An allergy is in simple words, a response of the body to something that it detects as foreign and potentially dangerous. The body may react to almost anything. This includes food (for example milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, wheat etc), drugs and contact with specific materials among others. They may also affect anyone at anytime. Dr. Richard Webber from the American college of Allergy, asthma and immunology stated that even though allergies are more prevalent in children, they can strike at any age.
Some even disappear then resurface later in life. Whatever side of the spectrum you lie, it is important to know how the facts about allergies from their manifestation to treatment. Treatment is important to avoid fatal cases of anaphylaxis. This where a severe and rapid reaction of the body towards an allergen.
How does the body respond to an allergen?
When the body comes into contact with an allergen, an immediate reaction occurs where it produces IgE antibodies which are bound to special cells called mast cells. The result of this attachment is that the mast cells alters its properties and it ruptures.
Once the cell ruptures, it produces a special substance known as histamine which causes an allergic effect in the body.
Signs and symptoms of an allergy
Once histamine has been released, it causes dilation of blood vessels, overproduction of mucus, inflammation and constriction of airways. These internal effects then show up externally in form of, skin rashes, running nose, asthma, eczema, sneezing, coughing, watery and itchy eyes as well as nausea or fatigue.
An allergen may have different effects on people. While someone may respond mildly when they have had peanuts, another person may have a very severe reaction to the same.
Treatment for allergies comes in two forms: drug treatments and non- drug treatments. Drug treatments involves administering medicine that suppresses the symptoms of allergies. The most common drug for allergies is an antihistamine that works against the histamine produced in the body. There are also emergency direct injection drugs that can also be used to cure very severe allergic reactions.
Non drug treatments are commonly used as a complement drug treatments and they involve activities that keep allergens from reaching the body. Such activities include lifestyle changes, like changing the ingredients cooked in food to avoid food allergies, getting rid of carpets and pets to asthma, among others. It basically involves staying away from the allergen and things that may harbor it.
Questions and Answers
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding allergies. Hopefully they will help expand your knowledge on the subject
1. Can one die from an allergy?
A: Yes. Even though allergies are not fatal most times, if not treated, the effects can worsen leading to death. Typically, some allergies are more likely to have potentially fatal consequences than others.
2. Is an allergy an indication of a weak immune system?
A: No. An allergy is an indication that your immune system in working ‘too hard’ towards an allergen.
3. Can an allergy be transmitted from one person to another?
A: No. Thankfully, allergies can’t be transmitted from one person to another. They are bad enough as it is. An allergy is not in the least way communicable.
4. Can an allergy be transmitted to an unborn baby?
A: The likelihood that an unborn child develops an allergy depends on genetics and the risks are higher if both parents have an allergy. The chances reduce if only one of the parents has an allergy.
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