Five Facts to Know About Allergic Reactions

Five Facts to Know About Allergic Reactions

An allergy or hypersensitivity occurs when the immune system reacts to a substance that is not necessarily harmful to the body. The immune system contains antibodies that responsible for fighting the disease-causing pathogen. These antibodies can recognize and differentiate between harmful substances and those that aren’t and respond accordingly. However, when this action is impaired, the system attacks all substances whether harmful or not causing a reaction.

An allergic reaction occurs when the body reacts to a substance that it identifies as harmful even though it isn’t.

Interestingly, antibodies respond to a specific antigen (allergen). For instance, if you are allergic to pollen or peanut, the body only releases antibodies that react to pollen or peanut and not any other allergen. The cause of the phenomenon is not known, but it is believed that genetics play a role.

There’s no known cure for allergic reactions, however, working with an allergist can help you manage the symptoms and prevent future occurrences.

Here are a few facts about allergic reactions and what can be done.

1. The reactions are caused by various triggers

Everyone has a different allergic reaction and no episode is similar to the other. Some people are allergic to one trigger, while others have multiple. Regardless of how the reaction occurs, it’s important to know a variety of allergens can cause the immune system to be hypersensitive.

You can be allergic to pollen, pet dander, medication, food, pollutants, bee stings, or molds. These allergens trigger a different reaction and symptoms every time. However, the common symptoms include hives, nasal congestion, itching, rash, scratchy throat or itchy eyes.

The reaction can either be mild to severe, but you need emergency reactions treatment either way regardless of severity.

2. The reaction can affect anyone

Allergies are common in children, although adults can get affected too. Most people with adult-onset allergies develop them when they are in their twenties or thirties.

3. No treatment available, but you can manage the symptoms

As aforementioned, there’s no treatment for allergic reactions. Why do I need an allergist then? Because you can manage the symptoms with various remedies depending on the trigger. For instance, if you have asthma, the doctor may prescribe an inhaler.

Decongestants, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatory medication can also be used to temporarily reduce the symptoms. If you don’t get relief from the remedies, then an allergy shot will provide the best solution.

Other treatment options include sinus saline rinse (if the allergy affects the sinuses), moisturizing creams, ice pack, and corticosteroid creams for skin inflammation.

4. Symptoms can worsen, keep watch

Allergic reactions, if not treated on time can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that is rapid and can cause death.

An epinephrine shot works great in reversing anaphylaxis effects, but don’t give or take antihistamines when you have a severe allergic reaction. Unlike epinephrine, antihistamines work slowly and may not reverse the symptoms at the opportune time.

At the onset of anaphylaxis, give the epinephrine shot and call for emergency support.

Some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis to watch out for include wheezing and difficulty breathing, tightness of the throat, swollen lips, fast pulse and heartbeat, loss of consciousness, anxiety, and dizziness.

5. Allergic reactions are preventable

The best allergy management is prevention, but this will depend on your type of allergy. Some of the tips to try include:

  • Taking medication as prescribed by the doctor
  • Ensure you have an epinephrine auto-injector at all times
  • Always wear a medical alert bracelet it comes in handy when you get a severe allergic reaction
  • Keep an allergy diary to track what you eat and when they occur to help the doctor find the trigger easily

It is vital to recognize that how you respond to an allergic reaction will determine the success of the treatment plan. If the reaction occurs, call our emergency care center immediately. Don’t try to drive to the hospital, an ambulance is recommended as we have trained staff to handle any emergency that may arise.