Living Confidently with Allergies

What are Allergies?

Every year alone, over a billion people fight different types of allergies. In the US alone, over 15 million people live with different types of food allergies. These allergies do not have any known cure but can be managed. The most potent cure to any allergy is avoiding the trigger.

Allergies were first mentioned of a King in Egypt, who was killed when a wasp stung him. In Rome, Brittanicus developed rashes that caused his eyes to swell. The name allergy was introduced in the year 1906 by a pediatrician in Vienna called Clemens von Pirquet. The word was gotten from the Greek ‘Allos’ meaning “other” and ‘Ergon’ meaning “work” to highlight the abnormal and hypersensitivity that occurred in certain of his patients when they were exposed to pets or certain foods.

Other research, which followed this revelation established allergies as the body’s reaction to parasites, invading worms and other elements. Allergies are more common now than they were decades ago, most probably because of changes in climates and seasons.

When a person eats inhales or touches an allergen, the body immediately reacts by releasing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies which attach themselves to cells in different parts of the body like the lungs, the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the nose and the throat. They do not act up until the person eats or comes in contact with the allergens that first produced these antibodies.

When the body releases histamine allergic reactions occur in the lungs, the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the nose and the throat and the skin. The nose and throat usually swell and cause breathing difficulties or sneezing. On the skin, it causes inflammation, hives and/or itching while in the gastrointestinal tract, there can be pain or diarrhea.

The percentage of children developing allergies every year goes up significantly. Some allergies like those to milk, soy, egg, wheat may disappear as the child grows, but others like nuts and different types of fish usually remain throughout life. Some people believe that exposing children to nuts (for example) at an early age will help them to fight whatever allergies that might have developed.

Research has shown that people allergic to certain types of nuts can safely eat highly processed oils gotten from them. Increased use of antibiotics in the first year of a child’s life has been found to lead to a higher probability of developing allergies. This study also suggests that an incidence of low vitamin D in these first years can also be a factor in the development of allergies.

The best ways to resolve this is to always ensure your doctor measures your child’s Vitamin D levels during routine checkups, also, always ensure that your child does not abuse antibiotics.

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening allergic reaction. It involves the reaction of the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal systems to a certain allergen. Epinephrine is actually adrenaline, which is applied within seconds or minutes of allergen reaction. It is the first line of defense to ensure that the reaction does not get worse after which professional medical personnel can administer other helpful medication to help stem the reaction.

It increases blood flow to the muscles and the output of the heart. Histamines are also important during the development of allergic reactions because they are organic nitrogenous compounds which are involved in the local immune response of the body. Hence allergic reactions occur when the body is trying to overcompensate for certain external stimuli.

The easiest way to prevent these allergic reactions is to not eat food that contains ingredients you are allergic to is to always read the labels of stuff you buy. It is advisable to be on the watch when eating out. Food allergies should not be mistaken for food intolerance as they might bear the same symptoms depending on the level of reaction of the allergy.

Do not be afraid to ask or notify the waiter or chef about your allergy. The smallest amounts of food allergen ingestion can cause a reaction so it is wise to carry prescribed epinephrine with you to treat sudden reactions. Apart from food, people are also allergic to pollen, animal hair or droppings, dust or mold, insects or insect stings, leather, latex, stings, bites and medication etc., these allergies usually arise seasonally and are called seasonal allergies.

They usually come during the spring, summer or early fall. Different allergic reactions include runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, swelling wheezing and sneezing. In some cases, the trigger to some allergic reactions cannot be identified. It is believed that climate changes have led to longer allergy seasons.

A very common type of allergy is allergic rhinitis which is popularly called hay fever. It is caused by grasses, mold or other airborne spores.

How does one live a comfortable life with these allergies?

  • If you regularly get hay fever, there are few effective ways to keep the allergic reaction at bay for longer. Some of these ways are;
  • Wash your hair regularly to rinse out the pollens that might get caught in it. Night is the best time to ensure that pollens don’t get caught in your nose as you sleep.
  • Studies have revealed that stress actually increases the probability of a person’s reaction to allergens because of the hormone cortisol involved. So it is important that one keeps the stress levels at an all time low during these periods.
  • Use nasal sprays and saline rinses to ensure that pollen, which enters your nose does not cause any reaction.
  • Take an antihistamine to help you dull the allergic reaction.
  • Consult a naturopathy doctor who can help prescribe natural remedies for your allergies.
  • A proper diet can help you avoid and completely eliminate these allergies.

When it comes to the management of food allergies, the solution is clear cut. It involves staying as far as possible from the triggers. Even inhaling them might cause some sort of distress. Other ways to manage your food allergies are;

  • Learn how to manage an allergic reaction so that in case of an emergency everyone is calm.
  • Keep triggers as far away as possible or ban them all together.
  • ALWAYS wash hands to prevent transfer of these allergens
  • In places like an office or school always carry medical identification and ensure that one or two persons knows what to do in case of a reaction.
  • Do not eat any food catered outside until you are sure it does not contain any allergens
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to your supervisor or teachers about your allergy. In some places, an allergy is classified as a disability.
  • Be sure to mention your child’s allergies at a party or other event.
  • Make sure your child understands how dangerous it is to willingly come in contact with allergens

It is important to make sure that your home is a safe haven for you or a child who has allergies. Make sure you regulate the temperature in your home as much as you can and clean bedding, curtains or other furniture that can harbor dust mites.

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