Many people suffer from allergies, and this is especially true of children. While some allergies may diminish with age, many are permanent and can last a lifetime.
Allergies are a common problem, affecting approximately 50 million people yearly. This makes allergies the sixth most frequent cause of chronic illness.
Allergies can cause various symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and congestion, significantly impacting a person's daily activities and overall well-being.
This article explores the possibility of eliminating allergies and providing preventative approaches and ways to manage them.
Although no cure for allergies exists, researchers are actively searching for potential therapies. In the meantime, individuals can manage their allergy symptoms with medication and reduce their contact with the allergenic substance that causes the reaction.
Immunotherapy does not provide a permanent solution to allergies but instead works to modify the body's response to allergens. It can help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions and lessen the symptoms experienced.
Immunotherapy may be recommended by a doctor if:
Over time, some people may find that their allergies no longer cause severe reactions after undergoing immunotherapy. However, for others, immunotherapy may need to be an ongoing treatment to help manage their symptoms.
Subcutaneous immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy, treats allergies. Oral immunotherapy, also available, is specifically used for treating peanut allergies.
To desensitise a person to an allergen, allergy shots are administered. These shots involve gradually increasing doses of the allergen injected over several years. This process helps to reduce the severity of the person's reaction to the allergen.
Symptoms of allergy shots include:
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) is a treatment that uses small doses of an allergen administered via tablets or drops under the tongue to increase tolerance to the allergen and reduce allergy symptoms. This therapy treats allergies to dust mites, grass pollen, and ragweed.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Peanut allergen powder (Palforzia) as the only oral immunotherapy (OIT). This treatment may help to reduce Source severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, when accidentally exposed to peanuts in children aged 4–17.
Whether or not an allergy will disappear over time depends on the type of allergen and the severity of the allergy. For some people, especially those who develop allergies during childhood, the allergy may go away as they get older.
Research indicates that certain food allergies may not be permanent and may go away over time.
Approximately 85% of children outgrow allergies to:
It is estimated that only 15-20% of children can eventually tolerate allergies to:
Research has shown that most children with an allergy to insect stings may not experience the same allergy in adulthood. Additionally, some individuals have reported that other allergies, such as allergies to pollen and pet dander, become less severe as they age.
It is believed that, by gradually introducing a person to a small amount of an allergen, they can develop a tolerance, similar to how vaccines or allergy shots work.
Allergies can appear at any age, and adults can develop an allergy to something that previously did not affect them. Although most people develop allergies during childhood, adults can also be affected.
The immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances, such as pollen, as an invader, leading to an allergic reaction in the body.
When the immune system identifies a substance as a potential threat, it will produce antibodies that travel to cells that release histamine when triggered. In response to this histamine release, the body experiences an allergic reaction. This substance, commonly called an allergen, can cause the body to overreact.
The complex process occurring in the body causes the allergy symptoms that a person experiences when they have allergies.
As a result of allergies, people experience many nasal passage, lung, and skin symptoms. Symptoms of allergies can be treated with the following treatments.
Histamine is blocked in the body by antihistamines. These are some examples of oral antihistamines:
A variety of allergy symptoms can be alleviated by antihistamines, including:
To prevent allergy symptoms from appearing, people can take antihistamines before coming into contact with an allergen. Most oral antihistamines are available without a prescription, while nasal antihistamine sprays can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription.
Nasal corticosteroids, more commonly known as steroid nasal sprays, are medications used to reduce swelling in the nasal passages.
Nasal corticosteroids available over the counter include:
Symptoms relieved by nasal corticosteroids include:
Other corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as beclometasone (Beconase), may be prescribed by doctors.
Decongestants are medications used to relieve a stuffy nose temporarily. They work by reducing the inflammation of the blood vessels within the nose, allowing the airways to open and reduce congestion. Over-the-counter oral decongestants such as oxymetazoline nasal (Vicks Sinex) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) are common. Sometimes, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) may be accessible behind the pharmacy counter.
Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom) is an example of a mast cell stabiliser that inhibits the release of histamine and leukotrienes, which cause inflammation. As a result, allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes are prevented.
Prednisone is a type of oral corticosteroid commonly prescribed to treat severe allergic reactions. This medication works by reducing inflammation and preventing severe allergic reactions. However, it is essential to note that oral corticosteroids can have serious side effects and must be monitored carefully by a doctor.
Hydrocortisone and other topical corticosteroids can reduce skin inflammation and irritation. These medications can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed as creams, gels, and lotions.
In cases of anaphylaxis, the body experiences a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. This can result in the constriction of airways, swelling of the throat, and a drastic decrease in blood pressure due to the dilation of blood vessels.
An injection of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is prescribed by doctors to people with severe allergies to prevent anaphylaxis from becoming life-threatening.
Epinephrine helps to open airways, allowing for easier breathing and constricting blood vessels, ensuring that the heart and brain receive a steady supply of blood.
To avoid an allergic reaction, avoiding any allergens that may cause it is essential.
Even if a person is allergic to something difficult to avoid, such as pet dander or pollen, a doctor can help create an allergy management plan. This plan can help minimise contact with the allergen and provide treatments to help manage the symptoms.
Those uncertain about the source of their allergies may benefit from recording their activities, diet, and environment in a journal. Doing so may assist them in detecting what causes or intensifies their allergic symptoms.
People who suffer from prolonged allergy symptoms that do not improve with over-the-counter treatments or that hinder them from performing their daily activities should speak to their doctor or an allergist.
A doctor who specialises in treating allergies is known as an allergist.
The following are the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis:
A person with a history of severe allergic reactions should always wear a medical alert device, such as a bracelet or necklace. This way, if they ever have an extreme reaction and cannot communicate, they can alert others to their condition and how to help.
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