Allergic conditions

Description of Allergic conditions

Description of Allergic Disorders
An allergy is the body’s way of responding to any foreign substance. The immune system produces an exaggerated response by releasing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to the foreign substance. The foreign substance could be harmless or could cause minimal to a serious allergic response in the body.
Causes and Risk Factors of Allergic Disorders
The disease can be caused due to:
1. Genetic: A strong family history of allergies like hay fever, hives or eczema increase the risk of a person to various allergic disorders like asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema, etc.
2. Allergens are substances that trigger allergic disorders when they come in contact with skin, nose, eyes, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. 
3. One or more of the following can cause allergic or hypersensitivity reactions,
a) Food: Proteins in foods like peanuts, wheat, shellfish, eggs, and milk
b) Airborne allergens: Such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold
c) Insect sting: Such as bee or wasp sting
d) Latex from products like gloves
e) Many household chemicals
f) Medications: Certain drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, codeine, sulfa drugs, and few antibiotics like amoxicillin
Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Disorders
The severity of allergies varies from person to person. Allergies can be long-standing or occur occasionally. Within a few minutes of exposure to allergens, one or more of the following reactions can take place.
1. Sneezing, runny nose
2. Red, itchy, watery, and swollen eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
3. Shortness of breath
4. Coughing
5. Red rash on skin
6. Swelling or inflammation of the skin (atopic dermatitis)
7. Inflammation in the nose (allergic rhinitis)
8. Asthma
9. Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat
10. Anaphylaxis: This is a serious allergic reaction that can be fatal. Symptoms include redness, tingling of the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or lips, light-headedness, and chest tightness. If not treated, these can progress into seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, shock, and respiratory distress. Food, latex, insect sting and drug allergies can all result in anaphylaxis.
1. Skin test: The physician pricks the skin (forearm or back) and a few suspected allergens or their extracts are introduced onto the skin. If the person is allergic, a visible raised bump (hive) will develop on the skin, confirming the allergy.
2. Blood test: Sample of blood is sent to the laboratory to measure the concentration of allergy-causing antibody, i.e., IgE antibodies and eosinophils (a type of blood cell) present in the blood.
Treatment of Allergic Disorders
Generally, allergies cannot be completely treated, but allergic reactions can be prevented by following:
1. General measures: Avoid triggers and allergens that are known to give an episode of allergy.
2. Diet: High intake of antioxidants such as walnuts, beans, hazelnuts, and berries may prevent allergies.
3. Medications: Depending on the type of allergy, medications like antihistamines, decongestants, or steroids are prescribed to reduce immune system reaction and ease symptoms.
4. Immunotherapy: SLIT (shot and sublingual immunotherapy) is recommended for environmental allergies. A series of injection of allergens in an increasing dose is given for few years so that the person becomes less sensitive to that allergen. Immunotherapy drug like Odactra improves tolerance to the allergens.
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that needs immediate medical intervention. Complications of less severe forms of allergy include:
1. Skin diseases like eczema
2. Migraines: Histamines released during an allergic reaction can trigger migraines in some people.
3. Other complications include severe breathlessness and swelling of face/lips
A doctor should be consulted as soon as one experiences symptoms of an allergic reaction. Always carry a card or list of all the things you are allergic to with you.
Content Details
Last updated on:
21 Dec 2018 | 12:24 PM (IST)
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