An allergy is how the body reacts to certain substances or foods. It affects one in every four people in the EU and can hit people at any time of their lives.
Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe reactions depending on the person experiencing it. Some substances generally cause allergies in large groups of people, including pollen, grass, dust, and specific foods.
Children often suffer from allergies more than adults do. But once you get an allergy in childhood, that’s likely to stick with you for the rest of your life. Some allergies may disappear as a child gets older. Still, some adults with previous allergic histories may develop allergies to new substances later in life.
Avoidance of allergic reactions is typically grounded on proper communication between the allergy sufferer and the people around him. It would be best to inform people of your allergy to avoid exposure to the allergen as much as possible.
Allergies often have mild symptoms and are easily treatable. However, there are many exemptions, as allergic reactions can also become severe and cause life-threatening situations if not promptly attended to.
When someone comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system produces antibodies to target the substance it deems harmful. This reaction can cause varying degrees of inflammation in the skin, airways, sinuses, and digestive system. Such inflammation presents as irritation and minor rashes in some people. However, others may also get full-fledged anaphylaxis, a medical emergency.
The following substances are the most prevalent allergens in the EU:
Allergies are heightened immune responses to typically harmless substances. Intolerance, conversely, is a condition that produces symptoms without involving the immune system. They may share similar symptoms, but they are not the same.
Allergies and intolerances are both different from sensitivity. Sensitivities are conditions where a provoking substance elicits exaggerated, albeit not extreme, effects on the body. For example, caffeine sensitivity could lead to heart palpitations or trembling when drinking coffee or eating chocolates.
There are three things a doctor may do to diagnose an allergy:
The doctor may also check the patient’s weekly food log for suspected allergies. The doctor may also identify a suspected food allergen with the patient, instruct the allergy sufferer to stop eating it for some time, and then report to the clinic to check if the allergy symptoms have subsided.
Other diagnostic routes may include:
Research still cannot pinpoint why allergies happen to people. However, medical evidence points out that people with family histories of asthma, eczema, and allergies are more prone to becoming allergic to something.
The number of reported allergy cases keeps on increasing every year. Why this happens is also unclear, but many believe in the “Hygiene Hypothesis” theory. Its premise is that people nowadays are more predisposed to developing inappropriate immune responses to harmless substances simply because we live in a cleaner environment and have the tools to become extremely clean.
We’ve been protecting ourselves from infections by being extremely clean. This results in reduced exposure to both harmful and harmless substances. This can send the immune system into overdrive. When the body encounters a harmless substance, the immune system reacts inappropriately, paving the way for an allergy.
Here is a list of the most common allergic reactions in the EU today.
Allergy symptoms greatly vary depending on the general triggering factor that caused it:
Insect stings or bites:
The initial treatment for mild allergies is to avoid the triggering substance. It involves precisely identifying your triggers and adjusting your environment and diet to allow for as much avoidance of the trigger as possible. Good communication between you and those around you will make allergy avoidance easier.
The best allergy prevention measure is to avoid the triggering substance as much as possible. People at risk for severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis must always carry at least two adrenaline auto-injectors. Let your family members and friends know about your allergic reactions so they can administer the shots to you in an emergency.
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