Allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction of the body’s immune system to any substance. People who are prone to allergies are called ‘atopic’. We will try to give details about allergic reactions and try to answer the question “What is an allergy?“
Allergies are oversensitive reactions from the immune system to the substances that contact or enter into the body. These substances may BE in foods, drinks or in the environment such as to give bee venom, pet dander, pollen.
Allergies, regardless of whether they are based on food, drugs, environment or other triggers, have possibly serious consequences for many individuals around the world. Recent studies reveal that 30%-40% of the worldwide population suffers from at least one allergic condition.
However, any substance may cause an allergic reaction, called an allergen. Contrary to this, many allergens are harmless and don’t affect most people. Food, skin, dust, insect skin, allergic rhinitis, pet, eye, drug, latex allergies are the most common forms of allergy disease.
Having a family history of asthma or allergies pose a risk for developing allergies. People who don’t have enough sunlight may also be affected a lot from allergies.
Facts and Figures
Surprisingly 30% of the world population is affected by allergic rhinitis.
Children under 18 years of age facing this disease make allergy the 3rd most chronic disease for this age classification.
Allergies are among the most chronic diseases in Europe. Th affects more than 150 million people. 1 out of 5 Americans also faces this problem. Unfortunately, 50% of the population in Europe by 2021 is likely to be affected by allergies. Allergies caused by insect stings comprise 5% of the worldwide population
Seasonal allergies are allergy symptoms that someone who is sensitive to allergens such as pollens faces particularly at certain times of the year. This usually happens when trees, grasses or plants release their spores/pollen particles into the air for the fertilization process. Then, the immune system treats them as an enemy and begins to release chemicals to the blood to defend against these attackers. These chemicals cause allergy symptoms that vary depending on the type of pollen or spore someone is allergic to. Additionally, there is no specific age group for seasonal allergy to start which means it can start at any age.
Symptoms of allergies
The human body mostly reacts against allergens within a few minutes following the exposure to something you are allergic to. It may also sometimes develop gradually over a few hours.
Most allergic reactions are mild. But some of them can be disturbing and may hamper daily activities. Even adverse reactions called anaphylaxis, severe allergic reaction affecting the whole body, rarely can happen.
Frequent symptoms of an allergic reaction contain, sneezing, red and watering eyes (conjunctivitis), wheezing, cough, chest tightness, swollen lips and eyes, feeling sick, diarrhea, red and dry skin. What you’re allergic to and how you come into contact with the substance specifies the sort of symptoms.
Combination of the patient clinical history and family history, physical examination, skin and laboratory tests mostly provide an accurate diagnosis of allergic disease. Tests are especially helpful to identify triggers for allergy. This information will be useful to form guidelines to prevent allergic reactions.
To be able to avoid allergens is the most effective treatment for allergy diseases. Naturally, it is not always possible to exactly avoid these allergens such as pollens, constantly floating in the air. Therefore, drugs and immunotherapy are commonly used for treatment.
Drugs help relieve symptoms but it doesn’t mean that they will completely cure the allergy. You need to consult with your doctor before taking any drug for the treatment.
Immunotherapy, known as hyposensitization, is a therapy that uses gradually increasing doses of allergens to ensure long term tolerance to severe allergens and to help rehabilitate the immune system.