What is allergy?

Allergy is an abnormal autoimmune response of the body’s defense mechanism with any foreign substance. In simple words allergy is hypersensitivity of the immune system to any foreign substance which can be different in different people such as
Insect stings
Pet dander
Food items
All these are also types of allergies and these substances called as allergen.

Signs and Symptoms
If you come in contact with something to which you are allergic, your immune system considers it dangerous and releases chemical called histamine to counteract it. The release of histamine can cause a variety of symptoms, including
Skin rash,
Runny nose,
Nausea and
Though some symptoms are common in any types of allergy but few symptoms depend upon the allergen or the substance you are allergic with.
Anaphylaxis is type of severe allergic reaction which can be dangerous or life threatening; symptoms include low blood pressure, low pulse, shortness of breath, wheezing, blurred vision and collapse.

1. Dust allergy
If you are allergic with dust or pollen or dander which you can breathe in may cause following symptoms
Itchy eyes, redness in eyes, watery eyes, painful eyes, sneezing, itching and irritation in and around the nose, runny nose or stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion, coughing, sore-throat, shortness of breath, headache ( commonly called as allergic rhinitis/hay fever).
Allergic rhinitis takes two different forms:
Seasonal: Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis can occur in spring, summer and early fall. They are usually caused by allergic sensitivity to airborne mold spores or to pollens from grass, trees and weeds.
Perennial: People with perennial allergic rhinitis experience symptoms all over the year. It is generally caused by dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches or mold. Underlying or hidden food allergies rarely cause perennial nasal symptoms.

2. Stings allergy
If allergen comes in contact with skin (stings) swelling, rashes, hives, itching with common allergic symptoms may occur.

3. Food allergy
Common Allergen food items are peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, fish and soy.
If allergen is food item then nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, shortness of breath may occur.

4. Mold Allergy
Mold is a fungus, which can grow in any moisture area, bathroom, basement, any closed room, unused clothes for long time and places with lack of sunlight. Molds are tiny and most of the time can’t be seen through naked eyes, spores from molds get in contact with air and therefore give allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, runny nose or stuffy nose, itching around eyes and nose, may be itching and rashes on skin, difficulty in breathing or wheezing.

5. Drug allergy
Common drug allergens are penicillin and related antibiotics, sulfa drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen, anticonvulsants, chemotherapy drugs, some dye containing drugs.
Allergic reactions include skin rashes, swelling, hives, shivering, or sweating, low Blood pressure, low pulse, wheezing, and may be anaphylaxis reactions.

6. Latex allergy
Usually health care workers and people having multiple surgeries are at greatest risk with latex containing gloves. This may be serous and fatal. Symptoms may be skin rashes, swelling, hives, itching, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma symptoms or anaphylaxis reaction.

7. Pets /animal dander allergy
This type of allergy also has the common symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and nose, red eyes, coughing, sore throat, wheezing.
Sometimes allergy symptoms can be very severe and turn in to anaphylactic reactions, so be very careful if you are having any allergy.

If you are having any of these symptoms with contact of allergen and you are thinking that you may have allergy with any of these then you can go to your health care provider, he will ask you questions about your routine, your work and home environment, detailed medical history, family history, frequency and severity of symptoms, and exposure to common triggers.
For confirmation of trigger of allergic reaction he may order for Skin prick test in which using a small, sterile probe to prick the skin with extracts from common allergens, such as tree pollen and pet dander, and observing the reaction A positive reaction (a raised welt with redness around it) may indicate that you are allergic to that substance. Occasionally, your allergist may order a blood test and a skin test to confirm an allergy.

Management and treatment
The best way to manage allergy problem is the prevention, which is avoidance of allergen.
If you know that you are allergic with particular substance you should avoid to come in the contact with allergen.

Dust allergy
Air born allergies like dust, pollen, animal dander, molds have common symptoms and triggers.
1. Avoid going to the places rich in dust, pollen or animal dander, molds.
2. Clean your home with central vaccuming and use mask while dusting.
3. Use mite proof blankets and mattresses.
4. Wash all bed linens regularly.
5. Choose the room with proper sunlight.
6. Keep windows closed during high pollen periods.
7. Use sunglasses or eyeglasses to protect eyes from dust, pollen and dander.
8. Keep pets out of the room all time.
9. Use high efficiency air filter to clean the whole house.
10.If you are living in humid or sticky climate, use dehumidifier.
11.Use vent fan in kitchen and bathroom to remove moisture.
12.Stay away from smoke and smoking

Food allergy
If you have food allergy and you know about triggering food causing allergy then NEVER EAT the trigger food item.
When you are eating outside, in restaurant be extra careful, and tell to all your friends and group about your allergic food item. Use clean dishes which are not in contact with allergen.

Stings allergy
1. For outdoor activities wear full sleeve and completely covered body clothes.
2. Do not walk barefoot on the grasses, do not go near bushes.
3. Be careful around nest areas.

Drug allergy
Make sure that your doctor or health care professional knows about your allergy and symptoms in detail.
Avoid any combination of related drug.

Latex allergy
Avoid latex containing gloves.

1. Antihistamines to counteract allergic reactions
2. Decongestants help relieve nasal stuffiness and pressure caused by swollen nasal tissue.
3. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to reduce inflammation or swelling.
4. Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
5. Epinephrine/Adrenaline injection.
People can carry epinephrine auto injectors for stings and food allergy or severe allergic reaction.

So basically allergy is an immune response, if you are having strong immunity probably you will not suffer any immunity related problems but because of weak immunity you can suffer from so many problems. The best way to improve immunity is the yoga and meditation; if you are suffering from any allergic problem you should follow healthy lifestyle with yoga (pranayama) regularly. Deep breathing exercises or pranayama rejuvenates your inner energy and boost up your brain with balancing all the chemicals and hormones in the body. So hormones and chemicals releasing during immune response can be controlled by yoga and meditation.

Please note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

Content source  –  American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology