An Introduction to Allergies
Currently over 20% of the US population have encountered allergy and its symptoms at some point of their life, while at least half Americans will most likely have allergies to one of the listed allergens if they would perform a specific medical exam. But in the end, most people have only a vague description of what are allergies. This is partly due to the fact that allergy in itself is a rather large and complicated topic for discussion, making it harder to understand the basics. Therefore, let us begin from the beginning.
What are Allergies - A Brief Explanation
Allergy is in fact a general term referring to a specific reaction produced by the organism in response to a particular irritant called an "allergen". For people with allergies, the body's immune system may find seemingly harmless household and environmental substances such as plant pollen or certain kinds of food to be potentially dangerous to the organism (although they are effectively still harmless). In this event the body will attempt to stop the apparent "attacker" from invading the organism, often producing unpleasant, volatile and sometimes hazardous symptoms. As the aggravated immune system launches antibodies to repel the otherwise harmless substance, the tissues that came in contact with the irritant will become swollen and inflammated, producing several different symptoms depending on the allergen and what it came in contact with. Inhaled allergens like pollen or mold mites often cause sneezing, watery or teary eyes, runny or stuffy nose, and cough, while food allergy symptoms may include swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, tingling or itching sensation in the mouth, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. In most cases these symptoms will continue to surface as long as the person remains in contact or within direct vicinity of the allergen, sometimes producing an even more violent reaction upon every future encounter.
The Potential Dangers of Allergy
Although most people who encounter the symptoms of allergy do not find this condition to be anything serious, only annoying or inconvenient at most, this fact is not always true. Depending on the circumstances, an allergic reaction can lead to potentially dangerous events, for example a simple nasal itch, sneezing or eye irritation while driving can prove to hazardous to property, health, and even life. Allergic reactions are not limited to cold and flu-like symptoms. Some people can be especially sensitive to a particular allergen, producing a reaction known as anaphylactic shock when coming in contact with the substance. The same applies to a person who is suddenly exposed to large amount or concentration of a particular allergen. This causes an extreme reduction of blood pressure levels (among other symptoms), leaving the brain without enough oxygen to sustain normal function. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Several conditions may be equally dangerous for a person with allergies, namely asthma and bronchitis. When combined with allergies, these diseases may increase the severity of allergy symptoms by several times, endangering the persons health if not treated properly. Asthma can become a potentially fatal condition if the person has food allergy symptoms he/she was not previously aware of. In order to help prevent these worrisome events, we will discuss the details of asthma treatment as well as talk about the possible precautions in different topics.