UNDERSTANDING YOUR ALLERGIES: SYMPTOMS & TREATMENT
When you first learn you have an allergy of some sort, it can be difficult to understand why your body is reacting in a particular way. Allergies are exaggerated responses of the immune system, which generally occur when a person is exposed to allergens in the environment. Normally, these substances are harmless unless a person is carrying this disorder.
People with allergic disorders produce a substance known as immunoglobulin E, or IgE for short, when they are exposed to normally harmless substances, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or certain medicines or foods. These are actually antibodies that cause allergic reactions. The IgE substance stimulate mast cells in the body in order to release chemicals, like histamine, in order to destroy the “foreign” substance.
COMMON ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
An allergy is essentially an overreaction of the body, and the histamine can cause common allergy symptoms such as:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Asthmatic reactions
- Drop in blood pressure
This is why antihistamine treatments typically deal with these allergy symptoms.
There are cases where people suffer allergic symptoms during different seasons of the year, otherwise known as a spring, fall or summer hay fever. Some people suffer through blooming plants and tree pollen allergens during the spring, others deal with grass and weed pollen during the summer, and the autumn causes specific allergic reactions because of the ragweed and mold.
People who suffer with year-round, or perennial, allergies are typically dealing with indoor allergens caused by cockroaches, mold, dust mites or pet dander.
How Do People Develop Allergies?
A tendency towards having an allergy can also transfer genetically, depending on whether your mother has the disorder (which leads to a greater chance of acquiring problems), or both of your parents have it (which leads to a lower chance of developing problems).
According to the Allergy Report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergic disorders are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the US. One out of six people have environmental allergies, or allergic rhinitis. That comes out to an estimated total of 50 million Americans—and the allergy disease is increasing.
This may be due to several reasons, but there are two main theories:
- One believes that the increasing sensitivity of the human immune system is because of the large amount of synthetic chemicals within society today.
- Another theory considers modern hygiene allows for increased effects of the immune system when exposed to normally harmless substances. This is known as the “hygiene hypothesis.”
The viruses, bacteria, parasites and other microbes that our immune system is meant to handle is not cared for by modern hygiene, antibiotics, health care, sanitation and vaccines. It is believed that now the immune system focuses its attention on normally harmless foreign substances.