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What and how about allergy?

You might have heard or even observed that whenever the season changes you get cold, cough and as the days pass by it goes. Some might have even observed that when they eat a particular food item (peanut, rice etc.) rashes develop on the body or you have problem breathing. Then we hear the doctor saying that we have allergy and are given medications and told to take precautions to avoid the symptoms resulting in allergy. But what exactly is an allergy? Why the season change affects only us and not others? Is it dangerous? Will we have to live with it for the entire life? These are some of the questions which might be doing the rounds in your minds. So let us today try to find out the reasons and solutions together.

What is allergy?

The body’s immune system over responds to certain situations i.e. it becomes oversensitive to an otherwise harmless foreign body. This is what in simple words is allergy. The foreign substance or “the allergen” is treated by the body’ immune system as very dangerous and so the body responds back in the form of immune response or what we call an allergic reaction.

What a person experiences during an allergic reaction?

The immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) in abundance. Though it is present in everyone’s body but in the case of allergies, they are produced in abundance. When the IgE starts its attack on the so called allergens, they in turn make the defensive blood cells release histamines and other chemicals. This results in allergic reactions like inflammation. swelling, itching, hives, mucous and various other symptoms depending upon the location of the allergy and its type too.

Is it something serious?

Allergy symptoms in most of the cases range from mild to moderate but in the rarest of the rare cases do some people experience an extreme allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis is one such dangerous allergic reaction which causes the lungs to swell making breathing extremely difficult. The person could also complain of severe abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, cramps. This condition requires immediate medical intervention.

What are the most common allergies?

Not only outdoors but the allergens which cause allergy could be present indoors too. Plants, pets, food items could also cause allergy in certain people. The most common allergens which are responsible for causing allergy are:

  • Pollens: seasonal epidemic due to grass, weeds or certain trees. The person suffers from hay fever.
  • Mold: microscopic fungi they are, which produce airborne spores. They enter the body when we normally breathe. The breeding areas of mold are the damp places like the bathroom, basements or places where there is any leakage. In the outdoors mold could be found in the grass, around mushrooms etc.
  • Food Components: children might complain of allergy from peanuts, shellfish, cow’s milk, soy, wheat.
  • Dust mites: upholstered furniture, mattress, bed sheets, pillows contain dust which is hard to clean. This leads to the birth of microscopic organisms and thus dust mites. The person could experience itching at the back or other body parts.

If only I am allergic?

Around 50 % of people suffer from one or other type of allergy. If one of your parents has a specific allergy chances are very high that you too suffer from the said allergy. Also when the body defense system is weak, the allergens have a greater tendency to attack the body and cause allergy.

The doctor would conduct various tests to be sure that you suffer from the allergy. Though there are medications but the best defense is precaution.