Allergies

allergy
Drug Allergy

allergies
Food Allergy

Insect Allergy

Latex Allergy

Mold Allergy
Pet Allergy

What are Allergies?

Allergy occurs when a person reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless to most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, ticks, moulds, foods and some medications.

Atopy is the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases. When atopic people are exposed to allergens they can develop an immune reaction that leads to allergic inflammation. This can cause symptoms in the:

  • 1. Nose and/or eyes, resulting in allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and/or conjunctivitis.
  • 2. Skin resulting in eczema, or hives (urticaria).
  • 3. Lungs resulting in asthma.

What happens when you have an allergic reaction?

When a person who is allergic to a particular allergen comes into contact with it, an allergic reaction occurs:

  • 1. When the allergen (such as pollen) enters the body, it triggers an antibody response.
  • 2. The antibodies attach themselves to mast cells.
  • 3. When the pollen comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells respond by releasing
    • histamine.
  • 4. When the release of histamine is due to an allergen, the resulting inflammation (redness and
    • swelling) is irritating and uncomfortable.

Similar reactions can occur to some chemicals and food additives. However if they do not involve the immune system, they are known as adverse reactions, not allergy.

Which areas of the body may be affected?

People experience different symptoms, depending on the allergen and where it enters the body. Allergic reactions can involve many parts of the body at the same time.

Nose, eyes, sinuses and throat

When allergens are breathed in, the release of histamine causes the lining of the nose to produce more mucus and become swollen and inflamed. It causes the nose to run and itch, and violent sneezing may occur. Eyes may start to water and people may get a sore throat.

Lungs and chest

Asthma can be triggered during an allergic reaction. When an allergen is breathed in, the lining of the passages in the lungs swells and makes breathing difficult. 

Stomach and bowel

Foods that commonly cause allergy include peanuts, seafood, dairy products and eggs. Cow’s milk allergy in infants may occur and can cause eczema, asthma, colic and stomach upset. Some people cannot digest lactose (milk sugar). Lactose intolerance causes stomach upsets, but should not be confused with allergy.

Skin

Skin problems that can be triggered by allergy include atopic dermatitis (eczema) and urticaria (hives).

Life threatening allergic reactions require immediate treatment

Most allergic reactions are mild to moderate, and do not cause major problems. However, a small number of people may experience a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which requires immediate life saving medication. Allergens which may cause anaphylaxis include foods, insects and medications. People with a severe allergy should have an ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. 

Allergen avoidance or minimization relies on identifying the cause of the allergy and taking steps to reduce exposure to the allergen. For example, reducing dust mite in the home may help reduce symptoms in people who are allergic to mites. 

Types of Allergies
An allergy occurs when your body’s immune system sees a certain substance as harmful. It reacts by causing an allergic reaction. Substances that cause allergic reactions are allergens.

There are many types of allergies. Some allergies are seasonal and others are year-round. Some allergies may be life-long.

It is important to work with your health care provider to create a plan to manage your allergy. Avoiding your allergens is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Drug Allergy
True allergies to drugs (medicines) occur in only a small number of people. Most drug reactions are not allergic, but are side effects of the properties of the medicine. A diagnosis of the cause of the drug reaction is usually based only upon the patient’s history and symptoms. Sometimes skin testing for drug allergy is also done.

Food Allergy
There are different types of allergic reactions to foods. There are differences between IgE-mediated allergies, non-IgE mediated allergies and food intolerances.

Insect Allergy
Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are the most common stinging insects that cause an allergic reaction.

Non-stinging insects can also cause allergic reactions. The most common are cockroaches and the insect-like dust mite. Allergies to these two insects may be the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma.

Latex Allergy
A latex allergy is an allergic reaction to natural rubber latex. Natural rubber latex gloves, balloons, condoms and other natural rubber products contain latex. An allergy to latex can be a serious health risk.

Mold Allergy
Mold and mildew are fungi. Since fungi grow in so many places, both indoors and outdoors, allergic reactions can occur year round.

Pet Allergy
Allergies to pets with fur are common. It is important to know that an allergy-free (hypoallergenic) breed of dog or cat does not exist.

Pollen Allergy
Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies. Many people know pollen allergy as “hay fever,” but experts usually refer to it as “seasonal allergic rhinitis.”

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