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ALLERGIES

An allergy is an adverse reaction that the body has to a particular food or substance in the environment. Most substances that cause allergies are not harmful and have no effect on people who are not allergic.

Symptoms

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency.

  • Airborne allergies
  1. Red watering eyes
  2. Runny nose, sneezing, obstruction, itching
  3. Shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Food borne allergies:
  1.  Abdominal pain, bloating
  2.  Skin rashes, hives, angioedema
  3.  Vomiting, diarrhea

 

 

Causes

  1. An allergy develops when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen as though it is a threat, like an infection. It produces antibodies to fight off the allergen, in a reaction called the "immune response". 

The next time a person comes into contact with the allergen, the body "remembers" the previous exposure and produces more of the antibodies. This causes the release of chemicals in the body that lead to an allergic reaction.

  • Pollen, dust
  • Food: shellfish, peanut, strawberries
  • Insect stings: bee, wasp
  • Drugs: penicillin, antiepileptics
  • Latex

Diagnosis

  • Skin prick test, patch test
  • Blood: serum IgE level, RAST
  • Allergen challenge test

 

Preventions

  • Avoid exposure to known allergens
  1. Avoid such foods
  2. Change of town for seasonal hay fever
  3. Regular dusting of carpet, use of light furniture
  • Use of medical bracelet

Risk Factors

  • Family history
  • Asthma
  • Children are more prone

Complications

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Recurrent sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections
  • Asthma

Treatment

  • Antiallergics: Over the counter drugs like cetirizine fexofenadine can be used
  • Anaphylaxis: treated with epinephrine (epipens should be carried at all times)
  • Immunotherapy