What is an allergy?
Allergies occur when your body’s defence system responds to a foreign body. An allergy is a sign that your body rejects something and has labelled it as harmful. This could be things we inhale, eat, drink or touch. Sometimes the body reacts to animal poison, as it is sometimes the case with wasps, spider and bee stings.
How does allergy present?
When your body reacts to an unwanted substance it produces some chemicals which explain all symptoms associated with allergy. Allergies symptoms range from mild to life threatening emergencies. An allergic reaction commonly presents with itching, swelling and rash.
The skin: one may have some irritation, itchy skin or eruption of rash. Skin symptoms do not always mean that you have touched an unwanted substance. Skin symptoms also occur with things we eat, drink or even after an insect sting.
The Nose: In some people, the inner lining of the nose and throat tends to be hypersensitive to certain things they breathe in. These include dust, pollen or artificial air fresheners. Air conditioners, room mats, cats, dogs, flowers would often cause a nose blockage in people who are allergic to animal fur, dust or pollen. Many people would often think that they have flu, when actually they do not. When your nose constantly feels blocked, especially when you get exposed to certain things and in the absence of other symptoms, it can’t be flu. You need to start thinking of allergy to something! The other nasal symptoms include itching, sneezing and watery discharge (runny nose).
The Mouth and chest: sometimes allergies present with swelling of the lips and tongue. This could be life threatening especially that as the tongue swells it compromises airflow. The air pipes also tend to react and become narrow and this compromises the amount of air that enters and leaves the chest.
Note: This is an emergency, and should be treated as such because you will never know what will happen. It is important to seek help at the nearest health facility when one gets this or call an ambulance immediately.
Eyes and face: Many people often get eye symptoms, which include: itching, tearing and sometimes swelling. Sometimes the whole face is involved and thus becomes puffy.
What are the common causes of allergies?
Your body can react to anything at any time. Commonly, animal fur, pollen, dust mites and animal fur are known to cause allergic symptoms in those who reject them. People who suffer from asthma (an allergic disorder) will often get attacks when they get exposed to these substances. One should note that although symptoms may be moderate in conditions such as hay fever, they could be life threatening like in severe asthma.
Certain foods and medicines are also known to cause allergic reactions in some people. The reaction could be mild at times, presenting with skin itching and mild rash, or could cause life threatening symptoms such as swelling of tongue, shortness of breath and collapse.
Certain insects such as wasps, bees and spiders are known to cause allergic reaction in some people when they sting them. The body’s reaction could sometimes cause life threatening symptoms that need urgent medical intervention.
When should one seek help?
If one experiences recurrent nose blockage, runny nose, itchy palate and sneezing which do not go away, they should consult. Many people think that these are signs of flu, when they could actually suggest some allergy problem.
If you notice that certain foods cause itchy palate, throat, itchy skin or rash, you should consult to find out more. If the symptoms occur after taking some medicine, just inform your doctor, or any prescriber that you come in contact with.
Acute allergy symptoms should always be taken serious, especially if there is progressive eruption of rash and swelling of facial structures. One can never predict what will happen next.
Are there any tests available?
Allergy tests are available, but they will not always pick everything. They test you for a good number of things. There is also a special test done for food allergy, and certain food substances may be identified as the causes.
Myth: Your blood group can’t tell what you are allergic to, as many people believe.
Prevention and treatment
Emergency and life threatening symptoms should be dealt with by doctors in a hospital setting, preferably in the emergency room. The earlier you present to the hospital, the better!
To improve the quality of your life, doctors often prescribe certain medicines to fight the ongoing allergy reactions. These include the nose and the skin problems.
However, the best medicine for allergy is to identify, know and avoid the cause.