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Allergy : Symptoms, Cause, Treatment and Prevention

What do you remember if you remember the word "allergies?" The reaction of the immune system to something that is considered "dangerous" is what is called allergies. Please note that allergens or substances that trigger allergies only occur in people who have these allergies. In other people, the trigger factor will not trigger an immune response.

Allergic reactions that arise in each person varies, from mild reactions such as sneezing to severe reactions, namely anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions that arise also depend on the type of allergen

Allergies generally occur in children and usually will subside with increasing age. But in some people, allergies suffered still appear despite having entered adulthood.

Allergy Symptoms

When an allergy occurs, the body will produce antibodies because it considers it dangerous. If the body increases the number of antibodies to the trigger for allergies, it will trigger the release of chemical compounds that cause allergic symptoms.

Allergic symptoms that appear depend on the type of allergen and how you make contact with the allergen. However, there are some symptoms of allergies that generally appear in sufferers, such as:

  • Sneezing, itchy, runny and stuffy nose.
  • Red and itchy skin.
  • Dry and cracked skin.
  • Eyes are red, itchy and runny.
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and eyelids.
  • Stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Allergy symptoms that appear depend on the trigger factor. For clarity, the details can be seen below:

1. Allergy due to insect bites or stings




In addition to swelling in the bitten part, insect bites can cause itching throughout the body, coughing, feeling full in the chest, shortness of breath, and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).

2. Allergy due to particles in the air

Allergies to substances in the air such as dust, pollen, or mites, will usually be characterized by sneezing. These symptoms can develop into the runny nose, congestion, to shortness of breath.

3. Food allergies

Food allergies can cause itching in the mouth followed by swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes, throat, or face. In addition, this allergy can also cause red rashes on the skin, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

4. Allergy due to drugs

In addition to insects, food, or particles from the air, drugs can also cause allergic reactions. Symptoms can include itching of the skin, rashes, swelling of the face, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis.

When to see a doctor

Allergies can cause severe reactions and have fatal consequences, namely anaphylaxis. This reaction will generally occur throughout the body and spread very quickly. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Dizzy
  • Heartbeat
  • Hard to breathe
  • Blue skin and lips
  • Loss of consciousness

Anaphylactic reactions can also reduce blood pressure and are an emergency condition. Therefore, if symptoms appear immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room in order to immediately get help.

Causes of Allergy

An allergic reaction arises when the body's immune system reacts to things that don't cause reactions in other people. Normally, the immune system will react to objects that are harmful to the body such as viruses, bacteria, and toxic substances. This reaction will occur in all people who do not have immune system disorders.

However, in allergic sufferers, the immune system not only reacts to harmful substances, but it also reacts to specific substances that do not cause any reaction to other people. These substances in allergic sufferers become allergens.

The immune system will consider allergens as dangerous substances, so the immune system will react and cause allergic reactions.

Some types of allergens that can cause allergies are:

  • Insect bites or stings, for example, bee stings.
  • Foods, such as shellfish, beans, seafood, or milk.
  • Particles in the air, such as animal hair, dust mites, or pollen.
  • Medications, for example, penicillin antibiotics.
  • Substances that come into contact with the skin directly, for example, chemicals in perfume, soap, shampoo, or latex.

Some more easily experience allergies if there are family members who have allergies, although the types of allergies are not always the same. Environmental factors can also affect the risk of allergies.

According to research, the longer and often a person is exposed to certain allergens, the higher the risk of having allergies. Other factors that can increase a person's risk of having an allergy are:

  • Living in an environment that has a high level of pollution.
  • Smoke.
  • Suffering from an infectious disease.
  • Having a weaker immune system, such as children.

Allergy Diagnosis

To diagnose allergies and their causative substances (allergens), the doctor will ask about the symptoms that appear as well as the activities carried out before the symptoms appear, and do a physical examination.

To confirm whether the patient has an allergy and to determine the trigger for the allergy, the doctor can do some allergy tests, such as:

  • Patch test

In this test, the allergen will be placed in a certain place, then placed on the skin for two days while monitoring the skin reaction.

  • Skin prick test

In this test, the patient's skin will be dropped with a common allergen liquid, then gently and slowly pierced with a needle to see the reaction. If a red bump appears and feels itchy, the patient has a positive allergy.

  • Blood test

This test is used to measure the level of IgE antibodies in the blood that plays a role in allergic reactions.

  • Elimination test

This test is done by avoiding foods that are suspected to be allergens. After a few weeks, the same food is eaten again to find out the reaction.

In addition to seeing a doctor, patients can also evaluate the triggers experienced by observing the type of food consumed and the allergic reactions it causes to the body.

Allergy Treatment

The main treatment for allergy sufferers is to avoid these allergens or allergens. This step can be done if the allergen has been identified with certainty by the doctor.

But if the allergen cannot be avoided, or an allergic reaction has already appeared, the sufferer can take certain medications. Types of medicines for allergies are:

  • Antihistamines

Antihistamines work by inhibiting the effects of compounds in the body (histamine) that cause allergic reactions. Antihistamines can be used in the form of tablets, creams, liquid, eye drops, or nasal spray, depending on the area affected by the allergy.

  • Corticosteroids

This drug is effective in treating inflammation in allergic cases. This corticosteroid drug can be obtained in the form of nasal sprays, eye drops, creams, inhalers, and tablets.

  • Decongestants

Decongestants are used to relieve nasal congestion. This drug is only recommended for short-term use (less than one week). Apart from tablets and capsules, this drug is also available in the form of drops or nasal spray.

  • Leukotriene inhibitors

Leukotrienes are compounds that can cause swelling of the respiratory tract when an allergic reaction occurs. Leukotriene inhibitors function to inhibit the effects of leukotrienes. This drug is available in tablet form.

Other Types of Handling

If you suffer from severe allergies or that cannot be cured with medication, your doctor can recommend allergen immunotherapy. In this therapy, small amounts of the allergen are given to the patient by injection, drop or tablet placed under the tongue.

Giving allergens is carried out for several years to familiarize the body with these allergens, so there is no excessive reaction. Although not able to cure it thoroughly, this therapy will make symptoms of allergies milder.

If anaphylactic symptoms arise due to an allergic reaction, anaphylaxis sufferers should be immediately taken to the nearest emergency department to be treated by a doctor. The doctor will give an epinephrine injection to relieve the anaphylaxis. After that, the patient will be hospitalized until completely recovered.

Prevention of Allergies

The prevention of allergies depends on the allergen. The most effective way to prevent allergies is to avoid triggers. But not all sources of allergies can be easily avoided, such as dust mites, pets, or food.

The following ways you can do to help prevent allergies:

  • Wear closed clothing or apply an insect repellent lotion while traveling.
  • Avoid using perfume that can attract insects.
  • Use a mask when leaving the house.
  • Clean the house regularly, especially rooms that are often used, such as bedrooms and living rooms, to avoid dust mites.
  • Avoid using a feather duster because it can spread allergens.
  • Clean the surface of the furniture with a clean cloth dampened with water or cleaning fluid or use a vacuum cleaner.
  • Open the window or door so that air circulation is smoother so the room doesn't feel
  • Place a pet outside the house or in one particular room.
  • Wash your pet once a week and clean the cage regularly.
  • Note the types of food that might be a source of allergies so they can be avoided.
  • Read the packaging label to find out the ingredients used before buying food.
  • Clean the kitchen to avoid moss, especially the sink and washing clothes.
  • Do not hang clothes in the house.



References

References

1. NHS UK (2016). Health A-Z. Allergies.

2. Krans, B. Holland, K. Healthline (2018). Everything You Need to Know About Allergies.

3. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (2019). Allergies.


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