What Is an Allergy?
Allergic diseases, simply known as allergies, occur when your immune system is hypersensitive to environmental substances that are usually harmless. The foreign substances that trigger an allergic reaction are called allergens.
The immune system produces antibodies which are proteins that help neutralize and destroy foreign substances that may be harmful to the body. When you are allergic to something, the immune system creates antibodies that recognize a foreign substance as harmful even though it isn’t. So, when the cells come in contact with an allergen, the antibodies produced, trigger specific cells to secrete a substance called histamine, which is responsible for inflammation of the tissues.
Common allergic diseases are hay fever, atopic dermatitis, and allergic asthma. Most allergies cannot be cured, but treatments of allergy medication may help relieve the symptoms. A severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.
Signs and Symptoms Of Different Allergies
The severity of an allergic reaction depends on various factors like the person himself, the affected tissue receptors, and the amount of foreign substance a person is exposed to and the length of time since the previous allergen exposure.
Hay fever is probably the most common allergic disease. The medical term for hay fever is allergic rhinitis. Allergens that cause hay fever are pollen of various grasses, trees, and weeds.
Hay fever has cold-like symptoms like runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, sinus pressure, congestion, and sneezing.
A food allergy is an abnormal response of the immune system to a certain food. The immune system considers food to be a threat to the body. Foods that adults can be allergic to are fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts (like almonds). Children can be allergic to eggs, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.
Symptoms of a food allergy include hives, tingling in the mouth, swelling of the lips, throat, tongue or face, and anaphylaxis.
Atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, occurs when an allergen comes in contact with skin cells causing inflammation and redness. It is more common in children but can happen at any age. This condition may be accompanied by hay fever or allergic asthma.
Symptoms of eczema include itchy and red skin, flakiness, and peeling skin.
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