Spring is coming and with it the time of pollination of many plants, which is why there is a considerable increase in the number of allergy cases due to pollen, one of the most frequent allergens.
Allergy is an exaggerated reaction of our immune system to contact with certain substances to which we are allergic (which are called allergens), because our defenses confuse these substances with something dangerous, even when in fact they are harmless.
Causes of allergies
As previously mentioned, the cause of allergies is the reaction of our body’s defenses to certain substances known as allergens. There are different types of allergens, and depending on each person, they can be allergic to one or several different allergens.
The following are some of the most common types of allergens:
- Aerial allergens, which are present in the air and the environment, among which are some of the most common such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold.
- Certain foods can cause allergic reactions to some people. The foods that most frequently cause allergies are wheat, soybeans, nuts, peanuts, fish, seafood, chocolate, milk and eggs.
- The stings of some insects, especially bees or wasps.
- Certain medications can cause allergic reactions, especially penicillin and the antibiotics that are based on it.
- Some substances, such as latex, among others, can cause allergic reactions when they come into contact with the skin.
Today, the number of people affected by some type of allergy is increasing and, although anyone could develop an allergy, those with a family history of allergy or asthma have a greater risk of developing some type of allergy.
Symptoms of allergies
Depending on each case, the symptoms caused by the allergy can range from mild reactions to more serious ones. Among the most common symptoms of allergies are tearing, itchy eyes and irritation (conjunctivitis), sneezing, congestion, etc… to a greater or lesser extent. Also, as a complication of the allergy, it can cause asthma. On the other hand, the allergic reactions in the skin (atopic dermatitis) cause mainly itching and redness in the affected area.
The most serious type of allergic reaction, which can occur when dealing with allergies to food, stings or medications, is known as anaphylaxis, which causes shock in the sufferer and can endanger his life. The main symptoms of anaphylaxis are: drop in blood pressure, respiratory distress, heart malfunction (rapid and weak pulse), skin rash, nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness… In case of anaphylaxis, it is essential to notify immediately to the emergency services and / or go as soon as possible to the nearest hospital or medical center.
How to treat allergies and their symptoms
Although allergy itself has no cure, there are ways to prevent and reduce the number of allergic reactions, as well as treatments to attenuate the symptoms.
First of all, it is always best to avoid as much as possible suffering an allergic reaction, avoiding contact with the allergens that affect us. For this, if we suspect that we can be allergic and we are not yet diagnosed, the first thing to do is to identify with the help of the doctor which substances can produce a reaction, for which there are several types of tests:
- In most cases, a test is performed on the skin, so that a drop of the possible allergen is applied to the skin, it is inserted with a small needle and a few minutes are waited. If you are allergic, the skin will be irritated in a similar way as if it were a sting. The greater the irritated area, the more sensitive the person is to that allergen.
- To confirm allergic dermatitis, patches are used: a small amount of the allergen is placed on the skin and covered with a bandage. After 48 hours, it is checked for reaction.
- Finally, in the event that due to any condition on the skin of the patient or any medication that may take, it is not possible to perform the test through a skin analysis, a blood test is used to check if the patient is allergic.
Once the allergen (or allergens) has been identified, all contact with it should be avoided, or at least reduce exposure as much as possible. For example, if we have allergies to dust mites, we should avoid having carpets and other furniture at home where dust accumulate easily, clean frequently, install air filters…
In the case of allergens that are transported by air, such as pollen, are difficult to avoid, so it is common to use medications to attenuate symptoms. In these cases, the doctor will prescribe different medications depending on the allergen that affects us.
When it comes to severe allergies, or when other treatments do not work, your doctor may advise you to use immunotherapy, which consists of a series of injections of extracts of the allergen, which works like a vaccine. This type of treatment is administered for a few years.
Finally, in some cases of people with severe allergies, especially if they are susceptible to a serious reaction that could endanger their life (anaphylaxis), their doctor can tell them to carry an epinephrine injection for emergencies, so that when administered, the symptoms are reduced for long enough to reach a hospital and receive urgent treatment.
And remember, if at any time you need health care related to any allergy at Vithas Xanit International Hospital we have the best specialists. Of course, in case of medical emergency we also have an emergency service available 24 hours a day. Contact us for more information or make an appointment.