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Allergy Symptoms and Allergy Relief
An allergy is the body’s response to the presence of an aggravating agent called an allergen. Individuals act differently in their responses to allergens; therefore some people are more allergic than others.
Previously, it was assumed that all allergens were protein substances and it was common to speak of “protein sensitivities”. Some allergens are known to be carbohydrates, and at least some are chemically related to fats. All allergens have one thing in common – they stimulate a sensitive person to react by producing antibodies.
The allergic reaction results from complex chemical processes, such as enzymatic reactions, and is related to the processes by which immunity develops. Becoming immune to a particular microbe whose products have served as an allergen is a form of allergic response. When the antibodies that a particular allergen produces are immobilized within a group of body cells instead of being free in the bloodstream, then these cells that harbor the antibodies can be adversely affected when exposed to that specific allergen. .
Types of allergens
1. Some allergens enter the body by inhalation. These include pollen; powders; vapors, such as tobacco smoke; emanations such as dandruff; and strong odors such as perfumes (dust allergies, nasal allergies).
2. Some foods provoke an allergic response in sensitive people. These include wheat, milk, chocolate, eggs, strawberries, nuts, pork and fish (wheat allergy, strawberry allergy, fish allergy, egg allergy, food allergy).
3. Some people become sensitive to drugs or biological agents. These, therefore, can serve as allergens (allergy to drugs).
4. Some microbes can function as allergens. The symptoms produced when these microbes invade a person’s tissues are the result of an allergic response.
5. They are allergens that cause an allergic response through a simple contact with the skin or mucous membrane of a sensitive person. These include products from plants such as poison oak and poison ivy, and some dyes, metals, plastics, fur, leather, rubber products, cosmetics and chemicals such as insecticides (skin allergies, cat allergy, dog allergy).
6. Even physical agents such as heat, cold, light and pressure can trigger an allergic response. Many people who suffer from hay fever start to sneeze when they step into the sunlight.
Prevention of allergic reaction
In general, there are four ways to prevent or modify allergy symptoms.
A. Allergen avoidance. The simplest way to avoid an allergic reaction is to prevent allergens from entering the body. Hay fever sufferers can often prevent their attacks by staying indoors during the time of year when certain plants are in bloom. If these plants are confined to a certain locality, sufferers can avoid symptoms by staying away from that locality. Allergy to a drug can be avoided by not using the drug. Allergy to some foods can be treated by excluding this food from the diet. People sensitive to a certain dust can wear a filter mask. Air conditioning systems with air filters often bring relief to hay fever and asthma sufferers.
B. Desensitization.It is possible to increase a person’s tolerance to most allergens by administering gradually increasing doses of that allergen. Doctors can obtain preparations of common allergens from medical supply houses and inject them into a sensitive patient, starting with very small doses and increasing until the patient’s tolerance has improved to the point where he no longer develops symptoms when exposed to the allergen. This method has proved quite successful for many patients suffering from hay fever and some types of asthma.
C. Antihistamines.In many cases of allergy, the body’s tissues release histamine in response to the presence of an allergen. An antihistamine medication can ease this allergic response. There are many types of these medicines. One type will benefit some allergic people and another type, others. It may be necessary to use trial and error to determine which antihistamine will provide the greatest benefit.
There are some risks involved in using antihistamine drugs; many of them have the side effect of making a person drowsy. Therefore, it is dangerous for a person taking such drugs to drive a car.
D. Hormones. In cases of extremely severe allergic reactions, the use of steroid preparations may bring some benefits. These powerful medicinal agents should only be used under the supervision of a physician.
The symptoms of this disease usually depend on an allergic response to an airborne proteinaceous offending substance.
At least half of the causes of asthma appear to be caused or worsened by allergies.
This skin manifestation usually results from an allergic response to some offending allergen.
This manifestation of the allergic response involves the skin in the same way as in hives, except that here we have one or more large areas of swollen skin. In some forms of the disease, this area of swelling can involve the lining of the larynx so as to interfere with breathing and even endanger the victim’s life. In other cases it is the face, hands, feet and genitals that swell.
Serum sickness is an allergic reaction caused by the injection of a serum of animal origin (usually horse serum). Some antitoxins, valuable in the treatment of specific infections, are found in the serum of animals. This allergic reaction usually occurs in people who have had a previous injection of the same type of serum and have become sensitive to it. Because of this possibility, physicians prefer to use toxoid preparations, when available, instead of antisera.
Symptoms of serum sickness may develop up to fourteen days after injection. However, they may appear more quickly in previously sensitized persons. The disease begins with a skin eruption that resembles hives. There is fever, enlarged lymph nodes, joint pain, nausea and abdominal pain.
Emergency treatment for serum sickness requires the use of carefully graded small injections of a 1:1000 solution of epinephrine. Usually the initial injection consists of 5 ml. of this dilute solution. After a few minutes, an injection of 1 ml is given. depending on the patient’s condition; the injection may have to be repeated two or three times at intervals of several minutes.
ALLERGY FROM DRUGS
An allergic reaction can occur in sensitive individuals after taking certain drugs. It is said that there are more than a hundred drugs that provoke an allergic response in sensitive persons. Obvious offenders are sulfonamides and penicillin.
The development of a skin rash is the usual manifestation of a drug allergy. Fever and symptoms of shock may occur in extreme cases. Discontinuation of the offending drug is the obvious treatment, symptoms usually disappear soon after the drug is stopped.
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