Allergies occur when your immune system is overwhelmed with substances called allergens. Common allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction include pollen, pet dander and bee venom. People are also allergic to certain foods and medicines.
Who Gets Allergies?
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Every year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from an allergic disease or condition, including hay fever, asthma, conjunctivitis or pink eye, hives, eczema or atopic dermatitis, and bone infections or sinusitis. (1)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 20 million Americans aged 18 and over and more than 6.1 million children were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis in 2015. Usually called hay fever. Another 20 million Americans were diagnosed with respiratory, food, or skin allergies. (2)
The risk of developing an allergy is higher if you:
I have asthma
Has a family history of asthma or allergies
Under 18 years old
As children get older, they sometimes develop allergies. It is not uncommon for allergies to go away and then return years later.
You may have more than one allergy. For example, children with food allergies are four times more likely to have other allergic conditions, including asthma. (3)
More than 100 genes are associated with allergies, although only one or two genes affect any given population. Some of these genes affect the immune response. Others affect the lungs and airways. (4)
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What Happens in the Body During an Allergic Reaction?
Allergens are usually harmless substances that trigger the immune response and cause reactions in people who are allergic. An allergic reaction occurs when a person breathes, touches, swallows, injects, or somehow comes in contact with the allergen. Allergic reactions can be mild, severe, or even fatal.
In general, the immune system protects the body from harmful substances such as viruses or bacteria. “If you have allergies, your body responds to the allergen as if it were an attacker,” explains Clifford Bassett, MD, clinical assistant professor at New York University Langone Health in New York City and author of The Navy Allergy Solutions. Yes. ” “Your body overreacts to the immune response. That’s why there are histamine releases and other things that cause allergies. ”
Histamine acts as a neurotransmitter, sending messages between cells. It plays a key role in many different bodily functions, such as telling your stomach to prepare acid to digest food or helping to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. (5)
When your immune system responds to an allergen, it produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE preparation is part of your body’s effort to eliminate allergies and protect itself. Your blood vessels rupture and become dull, so the white blood cells that fight infection and other protective substances leave the blood vessels to attack the invader.
In the process, IgE antibodies signal other cells to release certain chemicals, such as histamine. Too much histamine in the body can cause an unwanted reaction that causes irritation to the skin, nose, throat and lungs.
Thus, a general protective action forms a cluster of what we know as allergy symptoms in response to a harmless allergen. (5)
What Triggers an Allergic Reaction?
The most common allergens that trigger an allergic reaction include:
Pet itching or skin
Foods (eggs, fish, milk, nuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, and others)
Insect stings or bites (including fever, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, fleas, horse flies, blackflies)
Medications (penicillin, aspirin, and others)
Metals (especially nickel, cobalt, chromium and zinc)
Signs and Symptoms of Allergies
Allergy symptoms depend on the type of allergen.
For example, rhinitis is usually associated with the following symptoms.
Itching in the eyes, nose and throat
Allergic food reactions may share some of the above symptoms, but may also be caused by:
Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
Hives, eczema or itchy skin
Anaphylaxis, in which narrowing the airways makes it difficult or even impossible to breathe
Skin allergies or insect bites can cause the following:
Symptoms of a drug allergy may include:Grunting
Swelling Of The Face Or Throat (6)