Allergic reactions occur when your immune system responds inexplicably to substances called allergens, which may come in the form of contact with skin or by being breathed, swallowed, or injected. Allergic reactions may also manifest themselves when these allergens touch skin surfaces or when taken by inhalation or injection into your system.
Antihistamine medicines such as tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops are used to treat allergic reactions. You can also get auto-injectors (Auvi-Q or EpiPen) just in case a severe reaction arises.
The immune system is an intricate network of cells and organs designed to defend against germs, pathogens and microorganisms that invade our bodies. When its defences overreact and attack harmless substances that they shouldn’t, such as peanuts, pollen, cat dander or food products – such as peanuts, pollen, cat dander or food products – this is known as an allergic reaction. Most allergic reactions tend to be minor with symptoms including sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes – while in rare instances life-threatening anaphylaxis can occur which requires immediate medical intervention from healthcare personnel.
Pollen is the leading allergen, triggering reactions in around 50 million American households annually. Other common allergens include food, insect stings and medication; plus skin conditions like eczema or hives.
Type I allergic reactions are hypersensitivity reactions in which the immune system overreacts to something that should not be harmful, producing antibodies against allergens which then initiate a chain of events that affect either all or only part of the body. With pollen allergies specifically, these antibodies bind with proteins in mast cells of skin or sinuses mast cells and trigger them to release histamine which then sends out signals which cause blood vessels to dilate resulting in swelling and itchiness.
Other allergies that can produce similar reactions include hay fever, some forms of asthma and hives. While some of these allergies are triggered by immunoglobulin E (IgE), others can differ. That explains why some people can only have reactions against peanuts but not eggs, for instance.
Food allergies can be broken down into two distinct categories: IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated. The former are the most prevalent form, caused by proteins found in cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, soy, fish and shellfish products containing IgE. Such reactions typically cause symptoms quickly after ingestion – often minutes or seconds – leading to potential anaphylaxis reactions. Non-IgE mediated allergies tend to take much longer for symptoms to manifest and require careful observation over time before diagnosis can produce similar reactions as seen with IgE-mediated allergies.
Simply speaking with your healthcare provider is often enough to determine what you’re allergic to and provide treatments to alleviate them. They may conduct tests or prescribe medications which will help. They can refer you to support groups and offer tips on avoiding allergens. In order to prevent reactions, read all labels on medications and foods to make sure none contain known allergens. Label reading should also be part of your dining out experience in order to detect hidden allergens such as gluten in pasta or dairy in soup. Furthermore, be sure to carry emergency medication such as epinephrine with you at all times in case anaphylaxis strikes – this medication could potentially save your life in case an extreme allergic reaction takes place; without it you could die within 15 minutes from exposure.