An allergy refers to an exaggerated reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. It is exaggerated because these foreign substances are usually seen by the body as harmless and no response occurs in non- allergic people. Allergic people’s bodies recognize the foreign substance and one part of the immune system is turned on. Allergy-producing substances are called “allergens.” Examples of allergens include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and foods. To understand the language of allergy it is important to remember that allergens are substances that are foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction in certain people.
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Allergies occur when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the allergen as an invader and produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to combat these substances. These antibodies then cause certain cells in the body to release chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream.
These chemicals affect your eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin or gastrointestinal tract and produces allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. Every time that you are exposed to that same allergen, an allergic reaction will be triggered.
The most common symptoms and signs associated with allergies include:
1. Runny nose
4. Watery, tearing eyes
5. Itchy eyes, ears, lips, throat and palate
6. Sinus pain
8. Shortness of breath
But there are some things that will reduce or eliminate the chance of your becoming allergic. These include the lottery of birth: being born into an allergy free family greatly reduces the risk of developing an allergy.
Plenty of vitamins C and E and Omega 3 polyunsaturated oils (mainly found in certain oily fish), having a large nuclear family, letting kids be kids and allowing them to get grubby now and again – getting down and dirty so the immune system is running at full blast, may help reduce the chances of acquiring allergies.
Most allergies are easily controlled but some individuals develop severe reactions from an early age.
They may have infantile food allergies (commonly cow’s milk, egg and nuts) usually associated with extensive eczema. These people need continuing close supervision and managed care; they may require the help of many health professionals.
Most people who suffer an allergic reaction to food, pets or the environment know how to manage their allergy and do so very well. However regular checks with a specialist are always recommended so that the condition can be monitored and controlled and any new medical techniques or drugs used.