Experiencing an allergic reaction can be scary, but if you have the tools to prepare for it, you will be better off. Nearly 30% of people suffer from allergies. Allergies can be from food, drugs, seasonal, or other substances. Allergens are anything that causes allergies. No matter the cause, allergies are annoying and can affect your whole life. It is not fun when you’re trying to experience the great outdoors and constantly sneezing and rubbing your eyes. It’s not the most enjoyable thing when you can’t eat things you love. Everyone reacts differently to things that their body is exposed to; some people have no problem with allergies at all, and others are almost allergic to everything. Allergic reactions in some cases are mild and involve only itching and sneezing, and others are very serious and may cause death.
The Immune System
Allergies are something you can be born with or something you acquire. From birth, your immune system is developing and changing. As your immune system develops, it goes through a filtering process. It decides what belongs to the body and what is foreign. A lot of this process is started while you’re in the womb but when you come out, you are exposed to a whole lot of different things. The immune system is almost like security at the airport. If it recognizes the bacteria or substance, it will allow it through. If it doesn’t, it will reject it and fight it off. This is why we have allergic reactions sometimes. The body does not recognize the substance, chemical, or cell and it fights it off. Sometimes the body’s reaction is extreme and other times it is small. Your reaction to something depends on the immune system, your body, and what the substance is that you are exposed to.
Seasonal allergies are very common. In most cases they are not harmful. The reaction you have to environmental factors typically only affects your sinuses. The sinuses sit inside the nasal cavity. They are also in the cheekbone and forehead area. When you are exposed to things like pollen and ragweed, you tend to tear up. Your ears, nose, eyes and throat may all start itching. Sometimes you start to feel miserable. You have trouble with drainage, and then that leads to an ear infection or sinus infection. If you suffer from allergies, this domino effect is all too common. You may not see this as an allergic reaction, but it is. The body does not like the allergen in its system so it does everything it can to get rid of it which may end up leaving you sick and needing antibiotics. If you suffer from upper respiratory issues like asthma, then you have to be very careful because seasonal allergies can be life threatening. It can make breathing difficult which only exacerbates upper respiratory problems.
I’m sure either you or someone you know has food allergies. Food allergies are not uncommon. There are certain things you just cannot eat. Although it may be annoying, it can save your life. Some common food allergies include peanuts, pineapple, eggs, seafood, and gluten. Sometimes these allergies start as an infant. At the age of about six months, the doctor typically gives parents the okay to try solid foods. For a lot of parents, this is nerve racking because they don’t know if their child is allergic to something or not. They approach this new step with great caution. Although the doctor gives the okay, a lot of parents still wait till the child is a little older. It is good as a parent to start out with small amounts of things that could be an allergen. You should keep an eye on them to make sure they are tolerating this new food. If it goes well, keep trying it. Sometimes the child will react immediately. Maybe they will get hives, but usually, it is not a serious reaction. As your child ages, their reactions can become more serious. You can also be on the opposite end of things. You never had an allergic reaction, and now all of a sudden your body cannot handle a certain food anymore. Why is that? For some people, it could be a virus that has caused you to lose your immunity for certain foods. In others, it could be chemical changes in your body.
We may be familiar with hives or itching as an allergic reaction, but there are many other responses your body may have to allergens like:
- Dry Mouth
- Rapid heart beat
Based on this list, you see some things are minor, but others are severe. Anaphylaxis is the worst reaction you can have. Your throat begins to close up, and breathing becomes difficult. If you have serious allergic reactions, you have to carry around your medicine just in case you come in contact with something dangerous. Sometimes reactions are diagnosed as a disease. For instance, gluten allergies typically cause Celiac disease, which is an intestinal problem.
Treatment for allergic reactions depends on the reaction itself. Hives and itching can be treated with certain anti-itch creams. You may also have to use special soap in your bath to help medicate the problem. Seasonal allergies may be treated with over-the-counter medication. Getting ahead of the game and taking allergy meds before exposure to allergens can prevent all the sneezing and itchiness. When allergies clog the sinuses, you may have to be treated for infections with antibiotics.
Severe allergic reactions require medical attention. If you know you have severe reactions; you should carry around an EpiPen. The EpiPen is great for both children and adults. If you are accidentally exposed to something you shouldn’t be, the EpiPen can save your life. It is now required that parents keep one at school for their children just in case. The EpiPen works by inhibiting those inflammatory responses that cause your throat to close during an allergic reaction. The pen is stabbed into a large muscle. Most people put it in the leg. It is great because it works quickly and gives you time to get to the hospital for further care. If you have bad vomiting or diarrhea, you may also need to go to the ER because you are at risk of dehydration. Dehydration can kill you. When your body does not have enough water, it can go into shock.
Allergic reactions may be mild or serious. Whatever the allergen is, try to be aware of it and stay away from it. It is difficult to stay away from seasonal allergies because you can’t lock yourself at home all spring. Maybe you could, but realistically that is not an option. The best way to avoid the seasonal reactions is to take medication before exposure. This keeps the histamines that lead to the swelling, itching, and sneezing down. For food allergies, the only way to prevent them is to avoid exposure to them. Some people still eat things they are allergic to in small quantities because they know and understand the reaction is not life threatening. It is important to just know your body. If you know the signs of an oncoming reaction, you can get treatment right away rather than waiting until it hits you full on. No one wants to deal with allergies but staying ahead of the game can save your life.
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