When you have an allergy, your body is reacting to a substance that is harmless for most other people. When it comes into contact with this substance, a reaction begins where the body produces antibodies to attack the invading substance. This reaction brings discomfort in the form of side effects, usually localized in one or a few areas of the body.
In very severe reactions, known as anaphylaxis, much more of the body is affected. Anaphylaxis is a very serious emergency which requires immediate medical attention. However, most allergies are mild. While they don’t require emergency treatment, they do bring a lot of day-to-day discomfort to unfortunate allergy sufferers.
Allergies to one substance or more are incredibly common. The World Allergy Organization estimates that one in three humans are allergic to something.
There are many different types of allergy. This is because there are countless allergens — substances which can cause an allergic reaction in some people — and they range from more common ones like pollen, nuts, and shellfish to ultra-rare allergens. There are even some unfortunate people who are allergic to water or the sun.
Here’s how an allergy sufferer’s body may be affected:
1. The Nose
For allergens that are breathed in, your nose is the first port of call. When an allergy sufferer breathes in pollen, mold spores, dust or any other airborne allergen, the body reacts quickly to produce histamine. This causes the lining of the nose to become swollen and irritated. The result is uncomfortable itching, sneezing and, with the help of the sinuses, a very runny nose.
Symptoms resemble those of a cold. A cold, however, will build up and then last continuously for a few days. With an allergic reaction, symptoms will come and go as contact with the allergen begins and ends. With environmental and seasonal allergies, however, like pollen allergies or dust mite allergies, it can still be hard to tell whether you are suffering from the common cold or an allergic reaction.
2. The Eyes
Like your nose, your eyes can be bothered by airborne allergens that come into contact with them. Allergy-affected eyes can become red, sore, watery or itchy, or all of these things. Because they are reacting to the same irritants, discomfort in the eyes is often accompanied by a runny nose.
3. The sinuses
Your sinuses are a system of hollow cavities inside your skull, between, above and below your eyes. It is the sinuses that produce nasal mucus. Allergic reactions can cause the sinuses to overreact and produce a lot of mucus to help clear the body of the allergen. In turn, the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. This swelling can be painful and cause an uncomfortable feeling of pressure.
Allergies can lead to a sore throat. This is because excess mucus from the sinuses, created because of the allergic reaction, can begin to drain into the throat. This is also known as postnasal drip and can cause tickly or scratchy feelings.
Breathing in allergens goes all the way to the lungs and can cause an asthma attack. When this happens, the lining of the passages in the lungs swell, which means breathing becomes difficult. Allergic asthma is a lot more common than non-allergic asthma, particularly in children.
It’s essential for allergic asthma sufferers to know, understand and be on the lookout for their triggers to help prevent attacks.
6. The Skin
Contact dermatitis is when red, itchy bumps show up where contact has been made with an allergen. There are many substances that can cause contact dermatitis for some people. These include cleaning products, soaps, adhesives, cosmetics, plants, certain foods, and latex.
Alternatively, allergies can show up as hives (red bumps) or eczema (dry, sore, red and itchy skin). These symptoms would more likely occur from a food allergen. With these symptoms, it can be hard to determine a cause, so it is important to seek advice from an allergist.
7. The stomach
Allergies to certain foods can cause stomach upset and pain. Common allergenic foods include nuts, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Cow’s milk allergy is fairly widespread among infants and results in an upset stomach.
However, do not mistake food intolerance for an allergy. An allergy is an immune system response, whereas a food intolerance is a digestive system response. With food intolerance, the digestive system may struggle to digest moderate to large quantities of a certain food, but be able to cope with small amounts of it.
With a food allergy, even the tiniest amount of the allergen can cause an allergic reaction. Additionally, the body will likely produce other allergy symptoms such as rashes or hives, or even breathing difficulty.
When any symptoms of allergies appear, it is important to seek advice from a family doctor or allergist to identify the allergen. This way, further allergic reactions can be prevented or, at the very least, contact with the allergen can be reduced. Your doctor or an allergy specialist can also help to suggest treatments and ways to relieve the allergy symptoms listed here.
I am a passionate blogger having 5 years of experience in blogging and digital marketing. I have started List Absolute in 2018 to give my passion a live platform.