This discussion covers the following information related to Allergies
- Signs and Symptoms of Allergies
- Causes of Allergies
- Risk Factors for Allergies
- Complications of Allergies
- Tests and Diagnosis for Allergies
- Treatment and Drugs for Allergies
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander — that doesn’t cause a reaction in most people.
Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause infection.
When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can’t be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Allergies
Allergy symptoms depend on the substance involved and can involve the airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In some severe cases, allergies can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, may cause:
- Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)
A food allergy may cause:
- Tingling mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
An insect sting allergy may cause:
- A large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site
- Itching or hives all over your body
- Cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath
A drug allergy may cause:
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling
Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition also called eczema, may cause skin to:
- Flake or peel
Some types of allergies, including allergies to foods and insect stings, have the potential to trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. A life-threatening medical emergency, this reaction can cause you to go into shock.
Signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:
- Loss of consciousness
- A drop in blood pressure
- Severe shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- Light Headache
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes of Allergies
An allergy starts when your immune system mistakes a normally harmless substance for a dangerous invader. The immune system then produces antibodies that remain on the alert for that particular allergen. When you’re exposed to the allergen again, these antibodies can release a number of immune system chemicals, such as histamine, that cause allergy symptoms.
Common allergy triggers include:
- Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold
- Certain foods, particularly peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk
- Insect stings, such as bee stings or wasp stings
- Medications, particularly penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics
- Latex or other substances you touch, which can cause allergic skin reactions