Development of allergies: Why Adults Aren’t Immune From First-Time Allergies
Why Adults Aren’t Immune From First-Time Allergies
Those lucky enough to skate through childhood and adolescence without itchy, watery eyes aren’t immune from allergies for life. Developing adult-onset allergies — from seasonal allergies to food allergies — is possible no matter how old you are.
Allergies develop when your immune system mistakenly identifies a substance such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or food as harmful. That substance is referred to as an allergen. The allergen stimulates immune system cells to release certain chemicals, such as histamine, which then lead to allergy symptoms.
Depending on the allergen, allergy symptoms can involve the nasal passages, eyes, sinuses, airways, skin, and digestive system. Reactions can vary from mild to severe and, in some cases, cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.
Why Allergies Now?
There’s a lot experts still don’t know about allergies, including what triggers them. They do know, however, that the prevalence of allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, is increasing in the United States and around the world.
Most theories as to why allergy symptoms have increased focus on “higher concentrations of airborne pollutants, rising dust mite populations, less ventilation in homes and offices, dietary factors, and sedentary lifestyles,” says Deborah Pockross, MD, a physician at Kenilworth Medical Associates in Kenilworth, Illinois, and staff doctor at Northshore University Health System in Evanston.
Another theory is the so-called hygiene hypothesis — meaning “a more sanitary environment [and less exposure to bacteria] increases susceptibility to allergic disease by suppressing the natural development of the immune system,” Dr. Pockross explains. In other words, our living conditions and food are so clean they don’t offer our immune systems enough to do, so our systems overreact to allergens instead.
Who Is at Risk for Adult-Onset Allergies?
Most people who are diagnosed with allergies as adults probably had an allergic episode earlier in life that they don’t remember. Often allergies follow a predictable course: eczema and food allergies in babies and toddlers, then hay fever symptoms in mid-to-late childhood. Allergy symptoms may fade during the teen years, only to return when you’re an adult.
Some people, however, do experience allergy symptoms for the first time in adulthood. This most often happens in your twenties, thirties, and forties rather than in later years. “As we age, our immune system does weaken — that is why more seniors get pneumonia than 20-year-olds,” says Anthony J. Weido, MD, president of Allergy & Asthma Associates in Houston, Texas, and the Gulf Coast area. “As the immune system weakens, the hyper-allergic reaction also weakens,” he says.
Any type of allergy can occur in adulthood, including hay fever, pet allergies, and dust mite and mold allergies as well as insect bite, drug, and food allergies. Again, experts aren’t entirely sure why this happens, but theories include:
- being exposed to allergens when the immune system is weakened, such as during an illness or pregnancy
- not being exposed to a high enough level of the allergen as a child but reaching that threshold in adulthood
- moving to a new location with different trees, plants, and grasses
- getting a pet
Managing Allergy Symptoms
If you’re bothered by mild allergy symptoms from hay fever and the like, it’s fine to try over-the-counter antihistamines. If this doesn’t help, consult your doctor to rule out other conditions and possibly get a referral to a specialist. An allergy expert can help determine specific triggers, suggest ways to avoid them, and perhaps offer medications.
If you suspect you have a food allergy, take it very seriously, as it can be life-threatening. Be sure to work closely with a board-certified allergist who will teach you about avoiding unexpected sources of the food and managing your allergy symptoms.
Allergies can be unpleasant no matter how young or old you are, but your medical team can help you identify your allergy triggers and find solutions.
Why does the body develop allergies?
Millions of Americans suffer from nasal allergies, commonly known as hay fever. Often fragrant flowers are blamed for the uncomfortable symptoms, yet they are rarely the cause; their pollens are too heavy to be airborne. An ear, nose, and throat specialist can help determine the substances causing your discomfort and develop a management plan that will help make life more enjoyable.
Why does the body develop allergies?
Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance that has entered the body as though it was an unwelcomed invader. The immune system will produce special antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergic substance if it enters the body at a later time.
When an allergen reenters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it causing a series of reactions. These reactions often involve tissue destruction, blood vessel dilation, and production of many inflammatory substances including histamine. Histamine produces common allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, headaches, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives, shortness of breath, etc. Other less common symptoms are balance disturbances, skin irritations such as eczema, and even respiratory problems like asthma.
What allergens should be avoided?
Many common substances can be allergens. Pollens, food, mold, dust, feathers, animal dander, chemicals, drugs such as penicillin, and environmental pollutants commonly cause many to suffer allergic reactions.
One of the most significant causes of allergic rhinitis in the United States is ragweed. It begins pollinating in late August and continues until the first frost. Late springtime pollens come from the grasses, i.e., timothy, orchard, red top, sweet vernal, Bermuda, Johnson, and some bluegrasses. Early springtime hay fever is most often caused by pollens of trees such as elm, maple, birch, poplar, beech, ash, oak, walnut, sycamore, cypress, hickory, pecan, cottonwood, and alder. Colorful or fragrant flowering plants rarely cause allergy symptoms because their pollens are too heavy to be airborne.
Certain allergens are present all year long. These include house dust, pet danders, some foods and chemicals. Symptoms from these are frequently worse in the winter when the house is closed up and where there is poor ventilation.
Mold spores can also cause allergy problems. Molds are present all year long, and grow outdoors and indoors. Dead leaves and farm areas are common sources for outdoor molds. Indoor plants, old books, bathrooms, and damp areas are common sources of indoor mold growth. Mold is also common in foods, such as cheese and fermented beverages.
How can allergies be managed?
Allergies are rarely life threatening, but often cause lost work days, decreased work efficiency, poor school performance, and a negative effect on the quality of life. Considering the millions spent on antiallergy medications and the cost of lost work time, allergies cannot be considered a minor problem.
For some allergy sufferers symptoms may be seasonal, but for others it is a year-round discomfort. Allergy symptom control is most successful when multiple management approaches are used simultaneously. They may include minimizing exposure to allergens, desensitization with allergy shots, and medications.
If used properly, medications, including antihistamines, nasal decongestant sprays, steroid sprays, saline sprays, and cortisone-type preparations, can be helpful. Even over-the-counter drugs can be beneficial, but some may cause drowsiness.
When should a doctor be consulted?
The most appropriate person to evaluate allergy problems is an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist). Aside from gathering a detailed history and completing a thorough examination of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck, the doctor will offer advice on proper environmental control and evaluate the sinuses to determine if infection or structural abnormality (deviated septum, polyps) is contributing to the symptoms.
In addition, the doctor may advise testing to determine the specific allergen that is causing discomfort. In some cases immunotherapy or allergy shots may be recommended. Immunotherapy is a unique treatment because it induces the build up of protective antibodies to specific allergens.
Tips for reducing the exposure to common allergens
- Wear a pollen mask when mowing grass or house cleaning (most drugstores sell them).
- Change the air filters regularly in heating and air conditioning systems, and/or install an air purifier.
- Keep windows and doors closed during heavy pollen seasons.
- Rid the home of sources of mildew.
- Don’t allow dander-producing animals (i.e., cats, dogs, etc.) into the home and bedroom.
- Change feather pillows, woolen blankets, and woolen clothing to cotton or synthetic materials.
- Enclose mattress, box springs, and pillows in plastic barrier cloth.
- Use antihistamines and decongestants as necessary and as tolerated.
- Sleep with the head of the bed tilted upward. Elevating the head of the bed helps relieve nasal congestion.
- Observe general good health practices: exercise daily, do not smoke, avoid air pollutants, eat a balanced diet, and supplement diet with vitamins, especially C.
- Use a humidifier in the winter. Be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid mold build-up.
- Discuss hay fever and allergy symptoms with a physician when experiencing an allergic reaction.
Copyright 2010. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery
Allergies – Symptoms and causes
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander — or a food that doesn’t cause a reaction in most people.
Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can’t be cured, treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Allergy symptoms, which depend on the substance involved, can affect your airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In some severe cases, allergies can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, can cause:
- Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)
A food allergy can cause:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
An insect sting allergy can cause:
- A large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site
- Itching or hives all over the body
- Cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath
A drug allergy can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling
Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition also called eczema, can cause skin to:
- Flake or peel
Some types of allergies, including allergies to foods and insect stings, can trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. A life-threatening medical emergency, anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Loss of consciousness
- A drop in blood pressure
- Severe shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
When to see a doctor
You might see a doctor if you have symptoms you think are caused by an allergy, and over-the-counter allergy medications don’t provide enough relief. If you have symptoms after starting a new medication, call the doctor who prescribed it right away.
For a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), call 911 or your local emergency number or seek emergency medical help. If you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (Auvi-Q, EpiPen, others), give yourself a shot right away.
Even if your symptoms improve after an epinephrine injection, you should go to the emergency department to make sure symptoms don’t return when the effects of the injection wear off.
If you’ve had a severe allergy attack or any signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis in the past, make an appointment to see your doctor. Evaluation, diagnosis and long-term management of anaphylaxis are complicated, so you’ll probably need to see a doctor who specializes in allergies and immunology.
An allergy starts when your immune system mistakes a normally harmless substance for a dangerous invader. The immune system then produces antibodies that remain on the alert for that particular allergen. When you’re exposed to the allergen again, these antibodies can release a number of immune system chemicals, such as histamine, that cause allergy symptoms.
Common allergy triggers include:
- Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold
- Certain foods, particularly peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk
- Insect stings, such as from a bee or wasp
- Medications, particularly penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics
- Latex or other substances you touch, which can cause allergic skin reactions
You might be more likely to develop an allergy if you:
- Have a family history of asthma or allergies, such as hay fever, hives or eczema
- Are a child
- Have asthma or another allergic condition
Having an allergy increases your risk of certain other medical problems, including:
- Anaphylaxis. If you have severe allergies, you’re at increased risk of this serious allergy-induced reaction. Foods, medications and insect stings are the most common triggers of anaphylaxis.
- Asthma. If you have an allergy, you’re more likely to have asthma — an immune system reaction that affects the airways and breathing. In many cases, asthma is triggered by exposure to an allergen in the environment (allergy-induced asthma).
- Sinusitis and infections of the ears or lungs. Your risk of getting these conditions is higher if you have hay fever or asthma.
Preventing allergic reactions depends on the type of allergy you have. General measures include the following:
- Avoid known triggers. Even if you’re treating your allergy symptoms, try to avoid triggers. If, for instance, you’re allergic to pollen, stay inside with windows and doors closed when pollen is high. If you’re allergic to dust mites, dust and vacuum and wash bedding often.
- Keep a diary. When trying to identify what causes or worsens your allergic symptoms, track your activities and what you eat, when symptoms occur and what seems to help. This may help you and your doctor identify triggers.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction, a medical alert bracelet (or necklace) lets others know that you have a serious allergy in case you have a reaction and you’re unable to communicate.
Aug. 04, 2020
Allergies and the Immune System
Allergic disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. People with a family history of allergies have an increase risk of developing allergic disease. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy are some types of allergic diseases. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Allergic reactions begin in your immune system. When a harmless substance such as dust, mold, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may over react by producing antibodies that “attack” the allergen. The can cause wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, and other symptoms.
What is the immune system?
The purpose of the immune system is to defend itself and keep microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that do invade the body. The immune system is made up of a complex and vital network of cells and organs that protect the body from infection.
The organs involved with the immune system are called the lymphoid organs. They affect growth, development, and the release of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are important parts of the lymphoid organs. They carry the lymphocytes to and from different areas in the body. Each lymphoid organ plays a role in the production and activation of lymphocytes.
Lymphoid organs include:
Adenoids (two glands located at the back of the nasal passages)
Appendix (a small tube that is connected to the large intestine)
Blood vessels (the arteries, veins, and capillaries through which blood flows)
Bone marrow (the soft, fatty tissue found in bone cavities)
Lymph nodes (small organs shaped like beans, which are located throughout the body and connect via the lymphatic vessels)
Lymphatic vessels (a network of channels throughout the body that carries lymphocytes to the lymphoid organs and bloodstream)
Peyer’s patches (lymphoid tissue in the small intestine)
Spleen (a fist-sized organ located in the abdominal cavity)
Thymus (two lobes that join in front of the trachea behind the breast bone)
Tonsils (two oval masses in the back of the throat)
How does a person become allergic?
Allergens can be inhaled, ingested, or enter through the skin. Common allergic reactions, such as hay fever, certain types of asthma, and hives are linked to an antibody produced by the body called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Each IgE antibody can be very specific, reacting against certain pollens and other allergens. In other words, a person can be allergic to one type of pollen, but not another. When a susceptible person is exposed to an allergen, the body starts producing a large quantity of similar IgE antibodies. The next exposure to the same allergen may result in an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction will vary depending on the type and amount of allergen encountered and the manner in which the body’s immune system reacts to that allergen.
Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Generally, allergies are more common in children. However, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age, or recur after many years of remission. Hormones, stress, smoke, perfume, or environmental irritants may also play a role in the development or severity of allergies.
What is anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shock, also called anaphylaxis, is a severe, life-threatening reaction to certain allergens. Body tissues may swell, including tissues in the throat. Anaphylactic shock is also characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure. The following are the most common symptoms of anaphylactic shock. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Other symptoms may include:
Itching and hives over most of the body
Swelling of the throat and tongue or tightness in throat
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or cramps
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Loss of consciousness
Abnormal heart rate (too fast or too slow)
Anaphylactic shock can be caused by an allergic reaction to a drug, food, serum, insect venom, allergen extract, or chemical. Some people who are aware of their allergic reactions or allergens carry an emergency anaphylaxis kit that contains injectable epinephrine (a drug that stimulates the adrenal glands and increases the rate and force of the heartbeat).
For information about food allergies please visit the following pages:
Can Allergies Go Away or Develop as You Age? – Cleveland Clinic
Allergies aren’t just for kids. Some adults may actually experience
a change in allergies as they age. From developing springtime allergies for the
first time, to realizing that your family cat doesn’t cause you the misery it
once did – allergies can shift and change at different phases of your life.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
“Allergies are an inappropriate immune system response to something in the environment,” says allergist Alice Hoyt, MD. “It could be cat dander, pollen, dust mites or even peanuts. But it’s an inappropriate response because there’s no reason for your body to be intolerant to such allergens.”
An allergen, like pollen, is something that a person is allergic to. Tolerance and intolerance is how your body identifies with allergens. You can lose tolerance towards something and have allergy symptoms upon exposure to it, or you can develop tolerance and not have allergy symptoms upon exposure.
Welcome to the club
Allergies are one of the most common chronic disorders
worldwide, and allergies can be developed in adulthood. Dr. Hoyt says that if
you find yourself feeling run down, with a chronic cough or itchy eyes for no
rhyme or reason, it might be time to question if it’s allergies – even if you’ve
never had allergies before in your life.
It’s the classic case of the college student who goes away to
school and comes home over break to find that she’s sneezing and her nose runs
every time she’s near the family cat. The girl has likely lost her tolerance to
cat dander when she was away and now she’s experiencing allergy symptoms.
The reverse could even happen if you’ve been introduced to a dog or cat, and a few months or years later the animal doesn’t bother you anymore because you’ve built up a tolerance to it.
Some research even suggests that having a dog reduces your risk of developing asthma and other future allergies later in life. Experts say that a dogs brings in more bacteria to your home, which actually helps to strengthen the immune system.
“Developing tolerance towards something is basically the same way allergy shots work – slowly introducing the allergen over the course of several months then continuing exposure for years,” says Dr. Hoyt. “You’re training your body to accept the allergen and to have a normal, appropriate reaction to it.”
Time changes everything
There are some people who have enjoyed the springtime for
years, and then for some reason, one May day their nose suddenly starts running
and they feel miserable.
Over time, it’s possible to lose your tolerance towards pollen, food, medications, materials and insect venom, such as bee stings. The immune system is constantly changing.
So if you’ve found yourself feeling crummy and you can’t seem to pinpoint what’s triggering it – see an allergist. At the least, you can rule out adult onset allergies, and your doctor can work with you to start feeling more like yourself again.
How to manage adult-onset allergies
Maybe going for a walk in the park suddenly leaves you sniffling and sneezing. Or, a food you used to eat without any issues now makes you break out into hives. No, you aren’t imagining it—it’s likely you’re experiencing adult-onset allergies. Even if you didn’t grow up with these sensitivities, they can spring up at any time.
Allergies are “a hypersensitivity to something in the environment that causes our immune system to overreact,” says Carrie Lam, MD, medical director of the Lam Clinic. When you’re allergic to something, it means your immune system classifies that substance as a threat and creates antibodies, which release histamines—to counteract it. The histamines cause reactions like sneezing, itchy eyes, or inflamed skin. The most common type of allergy is seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, and pollen is the main offender. Other common allergens include animal dander, dust, mold, and certain foods.
What causes adult-onset allergies?
Scientists aren’t quite sure what causes some people to develop allergies while others are fine, but genetics may play a role—you’re more likely to develop allergies if there’s a family history. Allergies often manifest in children, but any allergy can develop later in life. It’s not clear why you can tolerate certain allergens until a point, then develop a reaction in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or even later in life. Or, some people experience allergies as a child, experience remission in their 20s and 30s, then develop a reaction when they are older. The immune system, and how it reacts to certain substances, is constantly changing.
Sometimes with environmental allergies, such as pollen or animal dander, it’s not that you suddenly developed adult allergies. Rather, you may have been newly exposed to an allergen that you hadn’t previously encountered, like if you’ve moved to a new city or introduced a pet into your household. Stress can make your body release histamine, making an allergic reaction worse, but it doesn’t cause allergies on its own.
RELATED: What are the best medications for allergies to pets?
Can you suddenly develop a food allergy?
Nearly half of adults reporting food allergies developed them later in life, according to a study in JAMA. Because our immune systems typically become more tolerant as we age, in the case of adult food allergies, “we don’t think people are developing an allergy as much as they are losing their tolerance of something,” says Alice E.W. Hoyt, MD, host of the Food Allergy and Your Kiddo podcast. You might see this when someone who used to be able to eat peanuts now has an immune response because they’ve lost their peanut tolerance. Or, it could be a cross-reaction to another allergen in food, such as pollen.
What are the symptoms of adult-onset allergies?
How do you know if you’re suffering from adult-onset allergies and not something else? There are three key symptoms to keep in mind for environmental allergies, according to Dr. Hoyt:
- Itching in your eyes, throat, or skin
- Running nose, watery eyes, or nasal congestion
- Sneezing excessively
Itchiness is an important component because the chemical involved in an allergy reaction is histamine, which produces an itchy feeling. Itching is a tell-tale sign that it’s an allergy as opposed to just a runny nose or excessive sneezing, which could be a result of the common cold or irritating particles, like when you walk into a dusty room. In more severe allergy reactions, you may develop facial swelling, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. If those symptoms develop, seek emergency medical help immediately.
“Fever is not a symptom or sign of an allergy reaction,” Dr. Hoyt explains. “That’s definitely a time when you want to talk to your doctor.”
With adult food allergies, while symptoms may vary among people, “reactions happen quickly,” Dr. Hoyt says. “We’re talking a matter of minutes in most people.” That means if you had shrimp for dinner and several nights later developed a rash, it’s unlikely you’re suffering from a food allergy.
How to treat adult-onset allergies
When should you seek professional help for adult allergies? It’s a good idea to see an allergist if you think you have an allergy. “You want to know what you’re allergic to so you can implement some avoidance strategies,” Dr. Hoyt says. You may have an allergy skin test or blood tests done to help diagnose allergies or to get prescription treatment for severe allergies.
The strategies available for treating adult-onset allergies are the same as treating allergies in kids:
- Avoidance: Avoiding allergic triggers is the most effective way of reducing allergy symptoms, says Dr. Lam.
- Nasal saline rinses: Using sterile saline, such as Nasaflo Neti Pot, is helpful for rinsing irritants, like pollen, from your nose, so less histamine is released.
- Nasal steroid spray: It can take a few days or weeks for steroid sprays to work, so if you have seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to start using the spray a few days before allergy season begins. A benefit of using a steroid spray, such as Flonase, is that there are few side effects, as the spray goes directly into your nose and has minimal absorption to the body when used correctly.
- Antihistamine medications: Over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec or Claritin can be used to treat allergy reactions like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
For more severe allergies, prescription medication or allergy shots may be required.
What are allergies and why do they develop?
Inhaled allergens like pollens or perfumes can cause a runny, itchy nose and itchy eyes.
Allergies are very common, with around 1 in 5 people in Australia experiencing an allergy during their lives.
What causes allergic reactions?
The things that people are allergic to, called allergens, are usually everyday substances that other people can tolerate just fine. Common allergens include peanuts and other nuts, animal hair, pollen, crustaceans and fish, mould, dust mites, insect stings and medications.
When a person is allergic to a substance, their immune system reacts to it when it touches their skin, they breathe it in, or they ingest it. Some allergic reactions are driven by antibodies. Antibodies attach themselves to cells in the body called mast cells. When the allergen comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells release substances like histamine, which cause the inflammation and swelling typical of an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can affect the nose, eyes, sinuses, throat, skin, stomach, bowel and lungs.
The nose, eyes, sinuses and throat are affected by allergens that are inhaled. During an allergic reaction, these areas can become swollen, inflamed or itchy, with extra mucus produced in the nose and fluid in the eyes.
The lungs are also affected by allergens that are inhaled. Some people with asthma find their condition is triggered by allergens; however, it is possible to have asthma that is not caused by allergens, too.
The stomach and bowel are affected by allergens that are in foods or liquids that we ingest. Symptoms of an allergic reaction triggered by food or drink can include abdominal upsets like nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. Eczema and asthma can also be triggered by ingested allergens.
Hives on the skin can be caused by allergens that have been ingested or allergens that have come into contact with the skin.
Who develops allergies?
It’s possible for everyone to develop an allergy. Some people identify allergies early in life, while others develop allergies as they age.
Some people are genetically predisposed to developing allergies. This means they’ve inherited a tendency to be allergic to things from their family. People with atopy, or atopic people, may have eczema, hay fever or asthma. Some have all three of these conditions.
Studies show that introducing food that might cause an allergic reaction within a baby’s first 12 months can help prevent them from developing an allergy to that food. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy has a guide for parents introducing food to their babies.
Are allergies serious?
The severity of an allergic reaction can vary from mild to severe, changing from person to person and in one person from each exposure to an allergen.
Some allergic reactions, like watery eyes from hay fever, cause irritation or discomfort, but are not severe.
Other allergic reactions, like anaphylaxis, can be immediately life-threatening, and should be taken extremely seriously. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction which, among other symptoms, can cause a person’s face, lips, tongue and throat to swell, and might cause them to stop breathing. You can read more about anaphylaxis and how it is treated here.
What should I do if I think I have an allergy?
If you think you’re having an allergic reaction right now, seek appropriate treatment in line with the severity of your reaction.
If you think you are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
If your symptoms are not severe, like a rash, watery eyes or itchy nose, see your pharmacist or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice on over-the-counter medications that might help ease your symptoms.
Allergies can be managed. If you think you are allergic to something, see your GP about creating a plan to identify your allergens so that you can minimise your exposure and understand the appropriate medications available to help manage your condition if necessary.
Adverse reaction, sensitivity, intolerance or allergy?
Other conditions can have similar symptoms to allergies. Adverse reactions (when a person’s body does not react to a product, like a medicine, in the way that is intended), intolerances and sensitivities might all cause similar symptoms.
You can find more information about allergies at the links below.
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia
What is a food allergy?
Health Direct: Allergies
An allergy is an abnormal (incorrect) reaction to substances that are generally considered harmless. These substances can be inhaled, swallowed or even penetrated through the skin and are called allergens. Allergens can be hundreds, and maybe thousands of the most common substances. The most common allergens include: pollen, molds, house dust, food, dander and dander, and many medications.Why does the body react abnormally to these substances? In essence, this is his “mistake”. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system, designed to attack harmful foreign bodies such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, mistakes a harmless substance for harmful and attacks it to protect the body. This loss of control leads to the launch of destructive reactions. These destructive reactions are called hypersensitivity reactions or allergic reactions , and the antigens responsible for the development of allergic reactions are called allergens.
Allergy is an equal opportunity disease: it can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic factors. Children are more likely to develop it than adults, but the first attack can occur at any age. Allergic diseases can affect any organ of a person, but the most common are diseases of the respiratory tract and skin.
The main causes of respiratory allergy are allergies to pollen, house dust and mold, hair and dander from pets.Pollinosis is a disease caused by plant pollen. Allergy to pollen most often manifests itself in the form of rhinitis, conjunctivitis and pollen bronchial asthma. Pollen is the smallest grain containing a large amount of allergenic proteins. Pollen from wind-pollinated plants is produced in large quantities, can travel long distances and is the main cause of hay fever. Plants with large, bright flowers and a strong odor are usually pollinated by insects. They produce pollen in much smaller quantities, it is practically absent in the air, and allergies to it are not so common.In dry, hot and windy weather, the concentration of pollen in the air, as a rule, increases, which favors the development of exacerbations of hay fever. On the contrary, rain “nails” pollen to the ground and reduces the risk of developing allergic manifestations. Pollinosis most often develops with sensitization to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds.
Any house dust is a complex set of allergens, the main of which is house dust mite. These mites feed on the scales of the stratum corneum of the human skin.Mites live in beds and bedding – where a person loses the most horny scales when rubbing their skin during sleep. The body of a sleeping person is able to warm up the bed to 20 – 30? C and additionally create moisture – ideal conditions for the vital activity of ticks, as well as mold, with which they live in symbiosis and which they feed. Mold is a type of microscopic fungus that, as it grows, forms spores that are allergens. Molds are found both outside (in the air or on plants) and inside the home.As in the case of pollen, the number of spores per unit volume of air depends on weather conditions and the season (maximum concentrations are observed in late summer and early autumn).
Pets are one of the strongest sources of allergens. Allergies can develop on animal hair (dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, etc.), their saliva, urine and excrement, horny scales and skin epithelium, serum (blood proteins). This type of allergy is very widespread, it can significantly worsen the course of other manifestations.
Non-specific factors (not allergens) can play an essential role in bronchial asthma. Not being a direct cause of asthma, they provoke an asthma attack in persons with increased bronchial reactivity. Most often, these factors are: chalk dust, fiberglass, tobacco smoke, household chemicals, exhaust fumes, a strong smelling perfume, the smell of new furniture and finishing materials, as well as cold air, smog, exercise and even emotions.In the absence of bronchial sensitization upon contact of patients with these factors, exacerbation of rhinitis, conjunctivitis or urticaria may develop.
The term “true food allergy” means only an immune response with a specific clinical picture. Symptoms can be varied: gastrointestinal (abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea), respiratory (rhinitis, laryngeal edema, bronchospasm), ocular (eyelid edema, conjunctivitis), cutaneous (urticaria, Quincke’s edema, atopic dermatitis) and occur immediately after exposure to an allergen or with a slight delay.Food substances with high allergenic activity include: cow’s milk, chicken eggs, fish and seafood, fruits, cereals. Fruit and vegetable allergies are almost always associated with pollen allergies. A food allergy can develop when you consume even a very small amount of a product – an allergen, for example, an egg in a dough.
Pseudoallergy – clinical symptoms, most often skin, developing when eating a large amount of foods containing and / or releasing histamine when they are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract under the action of secretions of glands and bacteria. Histamine is one of the leading biochemical substances in the development of allergic symptoms (in particular, itching and inflammatory elements on the skin). The reasons for the development of pseudo-allergic reactions are often associated with the presence of various concomitant diseases in a person, in particular, gastrointestinal, liver, nervous and endocrine systems. Complaints appear after a certain time after eating, their nature changes over time, reactions depend on the amount of food taken. The most common of these foods are: cheeses and wines fermented during cooking, sauerkraut, chocolate, spinach, tomatoes, ham, salami, sausages, canned foods, tuna, sardines, pickled herring, avocados, brewer’s yeast, pineapples, walnuts nuts.Often, the reason for the development of pseudo-allergic reactions is not the product itself, but various chemical additives introduced to improve the taste, smell, color, ensuring the duration of storage and used in the process of growing the crop (pesticides; fluorinated, organochlorine, sulfur compounds, acid aerosols, products of the microbiological industry, etc. etc.). Eating genetically modified foods can also lead to the development of allergic reactions. Pseudo-allergic reactions are much more common than true food allergies, therefore, in the presence of itchy dermatosis, it is necessary first of all to carefully examine the condition of the internal organs and adjust the diet.
True drug allergy is also relatively rare. It is a consequence of the body’s immune response to drugs or their metabolites (products obtained during the transformation of drugs in the body). Drug allergy should not be confused with other adverse reactions that have a similar clinical picture: side effects of drugs, drug overdose, secondary reactions (superinfection, dysbiosis, etc.)), drug interactions, individual intolerance and pseudoallergy. Drug allergy accounts for less than 10% of all types of adverse drug reactions. They occur in about 2-3% of adults taking medication. Its development is caused only by those medications that the patient received earlier. A drug allergy arises from a minimal amount of the drug, cannot develop into many drugs with a different chemical structure and is manifested by the classic symptoms of allergic diseases (urticaria, Quincke’s edema, bronchial asthma, anaphylactic shock, serum sickness, allergic vasculitis, etc.).). The reaction to drugs that cause the release of biochemically active substances in a non-immune way (pseudo-allergic reactions) may appear already at the first drug intake, depends on the dose and route of administration, and may decrease or disappear over time. These drugs include muscle relaxants, general and local anesthetics, antibiotics, X-ray contrast agents, plasma substitutes and blood products, B vitamins, antispasmodics, ATP, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, analgin, etc.)), ACE inhibitors (captopril, enalapril, etc.).
The first principle of allergy treatment is to avoid contact with the allergen (of course, after establishing a clear diagnosis). In the case when this is an impossible condition (for example, to avoid contact with pollen or house mites), specific allergy vaccination is carried out in order to create tolerance (resistance) of the patient to causally significant allergens. Its mechanisms are based on the effect on systemic immune-regulatory processes, which provides a lasting effect after the completion of treatment.Timely specific treatment prevents the transition of diseases from milder forms to more severe ones. Treatment is based on the systematic introduction of the allergen, first in increasing, and then in sufficiently high doses. The composition of a specific vaccine depends on the set of allergens to which you are sensitized. If you are sensitized to many allergens, your doctor will select those that are most important as causative factors. The effectiveness of the treatment is 80% – 90%. I would like to emphasize that specific allergic vaccination is the only pathogenetic method for the treatment of allergic diseases, aimed at modifying the abnormal immune response in a sensitized patient.
Drug therapy consists in the use of pharmacological agents aimed at eliminating the main symptoms of rhinitis, conjunctivitis, bronchial asthma, dermatitis or urticaria. It must be remembered that drugs do not give a lasting effect that persists after they are canceled. Histamine is the main mediator involved in the development of allergic inflammation. Antihistamines are the main pathogenetic therapy for allergies during an exacerbation.Their action is associated with the blockade of h2-histamine receptors.
It should be remembered that allergies are chronic diseases, often with an undulating course. It is aggressive and insidious: affecting different organs, during life it can manifest itself under the guise of various diseases, including disguised as acute respiratory infections. From a small problem in the form of recurrent rhinitis, bronchial asthma can develop over the years. And the earlier treatment is started, the more successful the prognosis will be.
Allergologist-immunologist, doctor of the highest category
Ph.D. Victoria Nikolaevna Eremenko
What is allergy – causes, exacerbation, treatment of allergies
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Allergy is a pathological reaction of the immune system in which the body perceives substances that are safe for most people as dangerous.These can be food, pollen, wool, dust, etc. Upon contact with an allergen, a pronounced skin, respiratory or other reaction occurs, which in some cases can be life-threatening.
To avoid unpleasant allergy symptoms, it is important to accurately identify the irritant and select supportive therapy. This can be done in the Treatment and Diagnostic Center “Kutuzovsky” with the help of an experienced allergist.
How an allergic reaction occurs
Simplified, the mechanism of allergy can be described as follows.If a person has a genetic predisposition to allergic reactions, under certain conditions any substance is perceived by the body as an “aggressor”. There will be no immediate reaction to it, but the next time it comes into contact with this irritant substance, the immune system will try to counteract it.
The body will release antibodies and trigger a protective immune response – these are the unpleasant allergy symptoms that a person experiences. With each new contact with an allergen, the strength of the reaction can increase.
Allergies can occur at any time of the year, but many people have an exacerbation regularly during the warm season – spring and summer. During this period, plants bloom and bear fruit, it becomes dusty outside – all this can cause an allergic reaction.
In addition, sometimes allergies are acutely felt in the fall, because mold and cold can also act as allergens.
What is allergy
Depending on the cause, several types of allergies are distinguished.The main ones are:
- Food – such allergies are caused by food.
- Household – caused by contact with animals, house dust mites or mold.
- Pollen – associated with a reaction to pollen.
- Medicinal – occurs when taking medications.
- Insect – caused by insect bites (mainly wasps and bees).
Respiratory, skin and other allergic reactions
Each type of allergy has its own set of symptoms that occur when exposed to an allergen.All these symptoms are a reason to consult an allergist at the Kutuzovsky Medical Center. There are a lot of potential allergens, and only a specialist will be able to determine what exactly the body is giving an inadequate reaction to.
The following groups of allergy symptoms are distinguished, depending on its origin:
- Respiratory (respiratory): sneezing, watery nasal discharge, nasal congestion, cough, hoarseness, wheezing in the chest, feeling short of breath, noisy breathing, difficulty inhaling and / or exhaling.This is how seasonal allergy usually manifests itself during the flowering period of plants (its other name is hay fever) and angioedema of the larynx.
- Ophthalmic (signs of conjunctivitis :): redness of the eyes, itching in the eyes, lacrimation.
- Skin: itching, redness and peeling of the skin, swelling of individual and large areas of the skin.
- Symptoms from the digestive tract: colic, nausea, stool disturbance and other manifestations. They are usually associated with food allergies.
- Systemic manifestations: A combination of symptoms from multiple body systems, such as cutaneous and respiratory, or respiratory and cardiovascular. These manifestations are especially dangerous, therefore, urgent medical attention is required. They usually develop very quickly – up to several minutes after contact with an allergen.
- Anaphylactic shock: shortness of breath, convulsions, fainting, pressure drop, bronchospasm, sometimes coma. These symptoms are especially dangerous, therefore, urgent medical attention is required.They develop, as a rule, very quickly – within a few minutes after eating or contacting the allergen.
Most common allergens
The causes of allergies are not fully understood, and any, the most unpredictable substances can cause reactions. However, there are a number of irritants that trigger an allergic reaction most often. People with a predisposition to allergies need to be more careful with them and deliberately try to avoid contact.
Among the most common allergens:
- Cat or dog hair;
- Street and house dust;
- Plant pollen;
- Bee or wasp venom;
- Laundry detergent and other household chemicals;
- Penicillins and certain other medicines;
- Dairy products;
An allergen is not always a substance.For example, there is a cold allergy, in which the skin reacts with redness and itching to a decrease in air temperature.
Diagnostics: what tests are used to determine the allergen
In order to avoid irritating substances in everyday life and to encounter allergic reactions as rarely as possible, it is important to know the cause of the allergy. The first step in the diagnosis is a conversation with a doctor, during which the specialist will take a history and suggest several possible irritants. It is important to provide details about the symptoms of allergies and the circumstances in which an allergic reaction usually occurs.
Further, in the clinic, various laboratory tests are carried out:
- Skin tests. They allow you to quickly and safely track the body’s response to several different allergens. For testing, samples of potential irritants, selected in advance, are applied to the skin. A scarifier can be used with which micro-scratches are made. Skin tests are safe because they use negligible amounts of each allergen. Such tests can be performed on both adults and children.Allergy test results can be ready as early as 20 minutes after the procedure.
- Application tests. Unlike the classic skin test, the skin surface is not damaged in this case. A potential allergen is applied to the skin and covered with a special bandage for a day or more, and then the reaction is assessed. In this way, you can determine the cause of atopic dermatitis and other skin reactions that occur during tactile contact with an irritant.
- A blood test for antibodies.The laboratory measures the amount of specific antibodies that are produced in case of allergy – specific immunoglobulins class E. These antibodies are unique for each allergen. An immunoglobulin test is performed instead of, or in addition to, skin tests to clarify the results. For the test, a small amount of blood is taken into a test tube from a vein.
- Provocative tests. In this case, a certain amount of the allergen is injected directly into the human body, the doctor records the reaction and helps to quickly stop it.This method of testing is carried out only in a hospital under the supervision of doctors. The advantage of such an analysis is accuracy, because it allows you to determine 100% if there is a reaction to a specific substance. A provocative test is carried out if other diagnostic methods were not informative enough.
In addition, some general clinical tests may be required, a referral for which the doctor will write out if necessary.
How allergies are treated
The main principle during the treatment of allergies is to avoid contact with a substance that causes an undesirable reaction.It is important, if possible, not to provoke the immune system to produce antibodies, because each episode of exacerbation of an allergy is stress for the body and the risk of a severe reaction. Based on laboratory tests, your doctor will make recommendations on which substances to watch out for.
In parallel, the allergist may prescribe:
- Taking antihistamines – constantly or only in case of forced contact with allergens. These medications significantly alleviate most allergy symptoms.
- Supplementary medicines to relieve symptoms. To reduce the manifestations of allergies, separate preparations in the form of ointments, sprays, inhalers may be required.
- Allergen-specific immunotherapy. This is a modern method of treating allergies, the purpose of which is not only to relieve the symptoms of the disease, but to reduce the body’s susceptibility to a specific irritant. You can compare this method with preventive vaccinations. Its essence is that the dose of the allergen is introduced into the body for a long time, which gradually increases.Immunotherapy is carried out according to a certain scheme for several years and requires patience from the patient: the intensity of the allergic reaction will decrease gradually. Such treatment is prescribed in a situation where the allergen is known for sure.
Sign up for allergy treatment in Moscow
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms for the first time or you regularly experience exacerbations, it is advisable to consult an allergist. The doctor can help determine the cause of the allergy, mitigate its manifestations, or reduce the body’s sensitivity to the allergen.You can talk with an allergist and take the necessary tests at the Kutuzovsky Medical Center.
The content of this article has been checked and confirmed for compliance with medical standards by an allergist-immunologist Evgeny Vladimirovich Semin.
Publication checked by:
Why allergies occur and how to deal with it – Rossiyskaya Gazeta
Why do 3-4-year-old babies increasingly develop pollen allergies? When to expect the peak of allergies? Is it true that seasonal rhinitis affects student performance? About this “RG” was told by the chief allergist-immunologist of the Moscow Department of Health, the head of the department of allergology, clinical immunology of the Institute of Pediatrics of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Doctor of Medicine Alexander Pampura.
Alexander Nikolaevich, spring is late this year. When to expect the peak of allergies?
Alexander Pampura: The first symptoms of hay fever – sensitivity to pollen – appeared in allergy sufferers this week. Closer to May, the outbreak of the disease will become more noticeable. And the peak will come when the average daily temperature will confidently keep at the level of 10-15 degrees Celsius.
Why does allergy occur?
Alexander Pampura: Allergy is a malfunction of the immune system, which perceives certain substances as dangerous for the body and begins to fight them.Therefore, allergies can come from anything. Dust, fungal spores, animal hair, poplar fluff, sweets … In our climate, the most “popular” allergens are birch, alder and hazel pollen. According to statistics, increased sensitivity to pollen is in about 10-20 percent of people. And if such an allergy is not treated, a person’s attention and performance will decrease. It has been proven that the same seasonal rhinitis significantly reduces student performance and can cause road accidents.
It is better to prepare for spring allergies in advance: in a week or two, start taking antihistamines prescribed by your doctor.During the high season, it is advisable to keep the windows in the apartment closed. Carry out wet cleaning every day, use air conditioners with new filters. Allergy sufferers should avoid parks and squares during the period of dusting. And in the mornings, and even in dry windy weather, be outside as little as possible.
Do medical masks save you from pollen?
Alexander Pampura: Masks do not help: allergens that accumulate on them can only worsen the patient’s condition.
At what age does hypersensitivity to pollen appear?
Alexander Pampura: Usually the first symptoms of hay fever appear at 12-14 years of age. But recently, such hypersensitivity occurs more often in 3-4-year-old babies. Why? New antibiotics, cleaning products, nutritional supplements appear, mothers breastfeed their babies less … As a result, the immune system fails. The so-called “allergic march” appears more and more often. A situation in which allergic diseases replace each other.For example, at first the child develops food allergies and atopic dermatitis, then allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma. The elderly also have an increased risk of drug allergy.
30 percent of people in the world suffer from allergies
Is it the most dangerous one?
Alexander Pampura: A drug allergy (primarily to antibiotics and anesthetics) can appear unexpectedly and cause a very severe anaphylactic reaction: severe swelling, sharp pains, difficulty breathing, rashes… According to statistics, anaphylaxis occurs in about two percent of people. This is a problem for the whole world. To mitigate risks, many countries are setting up special registries for patients with severe allergic reactions. We are also working on this in Moscow. For example, we enter into the database patients with severe chronic urticaria and a high risk of anaphylactic shock.
How do you know what the allergy is?
Alexander Pampura: The most reliable way is to be examined by a specialist.Most often, doctors use skin and serological tests to determine the reaction to specific sources of allergens: the same pollen, animal hair, different foods. There is also more advanced diagnostics – molecular. A high-tech allergy chip can reveal sensitivity to many potentially dangerous proteins for an allergy sufferer. The method allows you to understand whether the patient needs specific treatment, whether he has risks of severe anaphylactic reactions. The use of an allergo chip allows you to assess the risks of developing severe forms of allergic diseases.This is especially true for babies whose parents are both allergic. In these children, allergies are manifested in 60-80 percent of cases. However, samples with the help of an allergochip are not yet included in the compulsory medical insurance system. And there are obviously few specialists who know this technique. This makes diagnosis and treatment difficult.
We also pin a lot of hopes on targeted therapy, which “hits” specific molecular targets. And, of course, to create new highly effective safe vaccines that will “teach” the patient’s body to perceive pollen particles as safe.
What is an allergy: symptoms, causes, treatment
What is an allergy
In the dry language of doctors, allergy is a pathological reaction of the immune system associated with increased sensitivity to certain substances – allergens. However, for you to develop allergies, it is not enough to eat some new fruit or rub your cheek on the cat. Sensitization is necessary – an increase in the body’s sensitivity to any substance, which will subsequently become an allergen. 1
Allergens are classified into two types. If they enter the body from the outside, then they are called exoallergens (from the Greek ἔζω (exo) – from the outside, outside). If allergens arise inside the body, then they are called endoallergens (Greek ἔνδον (endo) – from the inside, inside) or autoallergens (from Greek αὐτόζ – itself). For example, such an allergy often develops to proteins secreted by the body during the rheumatic process. 1, 2
Examples of the most common exoallergens
house and street dust
animal hair and human hair
waste products of insects and animals
bacteria, viruses and their toxins 1
The mechanism of development of an allergic reaction
Every day we are faced with thousands of substances that are foreign to the body: viruses, bacteria, pollen, waste products of insects and animals, food, medicines, industrial waste and many others.
When such a substance enters the body, the process of producing antibodies is triggered – special protein compounds that are designed to neutralize the effects of foreign substances. That is, antibodies are a kind of guards within us. Moreover, each antibody is responsible for neutralizing one foreign substance.
If the immune system fails, then antibodies are produced in excess. When the allergen enters the body again, they are activated and start a cascade of biochemical reactions, as a result of which special substances are produced, including histamine.Its sharp release, in particular, leads to the development of allergy symptoms and their various manifestations. 2
In order to make it clearer what an allergy is and what its causes are, we will find out what types of allergic reactions exist. There are four of them. However, some allergic reactions can be combined, combining 2-3 types of allergies. 1, 2
Type I – Allergic reactions of the reagin type or IgE-related. In response to the ingress of an allergen and the development of sensitization to it, special antibodies of the IgE class are produced.There is an active release of substances (histamine, leukotrienes, etc.) causing acute allergic reactions from the vessels, skin and other organs and systems of the body. For example, allergic rhinitis (runny nose), allergic conjunctivitis (symptoms are clearly manifested on the mucous membrane of the eye – the conjunctiva), bronchial asthma, etc. 1
Type II – cytotoxic. Cells are damaged by the formation of antibodies, damage can occur due to:
- activation of complement and the damaging effect of its fragments;
- damage and dissolution of cells with antibodies by special NK cells – the so-called antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity.
Allergic reactions in this case can lead to complications after transfusion of blood and its components, blood diseases associated with the immune response. 1, 2
Type III – the so-called immunocomplex allergic reactions. Antibodies either react incorrectly to body tissues or the tissues themselves change so that they become foreign. As a result, the immune system rapidly and mercilessly attacks them, developing diseases such as serum sickness, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic autoimmune diseases. 1
Type IV – delayed-type allergic reactions. They are associated with the activity of the immune system and develop due to changes in lymphocytes. Most often possible with contact dermatitis, rejection of transplanted tissues, manifestations of tuberculosis, brucellosis, leishmaniasis, etc. 2
Symptoms of allergy depending on its type
Allergy is as many-sided as it is insidious. There are a lot of manifestations and forms of allergic diseases, and the symptoms of one type of reaction in different people can vary greatly.In addition, symptoms can be easily confused with those of other illnesses, which often make it difficult to make an accurate diagnosis.
There are several reasons for this diversity. For example, the place where the allergen enters the body, where the difference can be significant between the introduction through the respiratory tract or skin, with food, etc. The most favorite targets for allergies are the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, including the nose and nasopharynx, eyes, and skin. The individual characteristics of immunity and immune response also affect.And, finally, the state of health of the organ that has become the target of the allergen.
The most dangerous allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock, that is, an immediate-type reaction that develops, as a rule, with lightning speed or very quickly, within a few minutes, rarely – several hours. Very often, such a shock is caused by an allergy to drugs 3 . According to some sources, about 0.65–2% of cases of anaphylactic shock are fatal 3 .In addition to drug, anaphylactic shock can develop with food allergies, as a reaction to the ingress of proteins, insect and reptile poisons. Remember a few symptoms that you should pay close attention to, because each of them may indicate the development of anaphylactic shock, and emergency measures need to be taken. So: itching on the skin, abdominal pain with food allergies; shortness of breath, feeling short of breath; suffocation; pallor of the skin; convulsions; drop in blood pressure; fainting or loss of consciousness; vomit.
Respiratory or respiratory allergy. It is caused by household and street dust, smoke, industrial emissions, car exhaust, pollen, animal waste products. Such substances are called aeroallergens, they penetrate through the respiratory tract. Once in the body, they can cause a sensation of itching in the nose, tickling in the nasopharynx, sneezing, and a profuse runny nose. With severe allergies of this type, a cough develops, and wheezing is heard in the bronchi. In severe cases, suffocation may develop.
Allergies often manifest as skin rashes or dermatoses. Spots, redness and irritation, itching, dryness with scaling, swelling and much more. Similar reactions are a response to the penetration of an allergen through the skin or mucous membranes. And the reason may be hidden in cosmetic or household products that have got on the skin, medicines, ointments, as well as food, contact with animals or with household items.
Allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the thin, transparent membrane covering the eye) can be an independent reaction, or it can accompany other types of allergies, such as allergic rhinitis.(rhinoconjunctivitis). Such an allergy is often accompanied by conjunctivitis, profuse rhinitis, since anatomically, the eye and the nasal cavity are closely related. The reason for the development of allergic conjunctivitis: household dust, exfoliated epidermis of animal skin, waste products of insects, pollen, mold – everything that can be in the air and get on the mucous membrane of the eyes. However, the reason does not always lie in the airborne allergens. Allergic conjunctivitis may well develop in the case of reactions of types III and IV. 1, 2
And, finally, there is also allergic enteropathy – associated with ingestion of an allergen from food. Allergy enteropathy can manifest as nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, and abdominal pain. 1, 2
Consequences and complications
In addition to symptoms that significantly worsen our lives, allergies are dangerous in many ways. For example, eczema, bronchial asthma, and atopic skin diseases often develop against its background.In addition, allergy is a background for the development of other pathologies that can affect almost all organs and systems.
On the background of allergies, other somatic and infectious diseases are more severe. In addition, they are more difficult to diagnose, since their manifestations are often superimposed on the manifestations of allergies, and, as a result, it is rather difficult for doctors to prescribe drug therapy so as not to cause an allergic reaction to it.
And, of course, you need to remember about the high risk of anaphylactic shock, which is directly life-threatening.Moreover, it is almost impossible to predict against the background of which allergen it will develop. 1, 2
Allergy is an excessive reaction of the body to certain substances that normally do not have any pathological effect, that is, to allergens. The immune system is involved in allergic reactions. Immunity should protect the body from foreign substances, but with allergies, the immune system begins to perceive harmless substances as dangerous, which leads to the development of specific manifestations.
Allergic reactions are very widespread, every third person has experienced them at least once in their life, and most often children suffer from them. Allergies can be caused by both external factors and heredity. If one of the parents suffers from an allergy, then the probability of developing it in a child is approximately 50%, and if both parents are suffering from it, it is 75%. However, only a general predisposition to allergies is inherited, and not a pathological reaction to any particular substance.
The number of people susceptible to allergies is increasing every year. This is due to both environmental changes and the fact that in recent decades a person has been in relatively “sterile” conditions – there is no sufficient level of load on the immune system, so it begins to react incorrectly to harmless substances.
Allergies are very diverse and can affect the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs. It is impossible to predict the substance to which a person will react, the intensity of the symptoms, the main area of the lesion – it all depends on the characteristics of the immune system.
No cure for allergies is possible, although many children who have experienced allergic reactions to certain substances at a young age may “outgrow” the allergy by adolescence, provided there is no contact with the allergen. Adults with allergies are forced to avoid the allergen throughout their lives. Although there are drugs that can reduce negative symptoms, they cannot completely rid a person of allergies.
Hay fever, allergic eczema, allergic rhinitis, urticaria, allergic conjunctivitis, anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock, allergic rhinitis, allergic sinusitis.
Allergic reaction, allergy, allergies, anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactic shock, anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity, hives, allergic rhinitis, hay fever.
Typically, allergy symptoms depend on which organs the allergen comes into contact with. For example, if you are allergic to a substance that is in the inhaled air (dust, pollen), the manifestations are likely to affect the respiratory system – a cough, runny nose and other symptoms will appear.There are also substances that are often allergic to the entire body, such as medicines. The most common allergy symptoms are:
- lacrimation, redness of the eyes,
- runny nose,
- shortness of breath,
- nausea and vomiting,
- stomach pain,
General information about the disease
The immune system is responsible for the allergic reaction.If a person suffers from allergies, then she begins to perceive harmless substances as dangerous – such substances are called allergens.
When an allergen enters the body for the first time, lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) begin to produce special proteins needed to destroy the foreign substance – immunoglobulins E (IgE). These immunoglobulins attach to mast cells – cells of the immune system that are found in many organs and tissues, in particular in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and skin.When the allergen re-enters the body, it binds to immunoglobulins E on the surface of mast cells, which is a signal for the release of active substances from these cells, including histamine. These substances act on organs and tissues, causing the characteristic signs of allergies: swelling, itching, redness, rash. A so-called immediate type of reaction is formed, that is, it occurs within the first minutes or hours after contact with an allergen. There is also a delayed type of allergic reaction – it is associated with the movement of cells of the immune system into the affected area in the period from several hours to 2 days after the allergen enters the body.
Any substance can become an allergen. Most often it is:
- house dust,
- food products,
- insect bites,
- animal hair,
- foreign proteins (for example, in vaccines, donor plasma).
The manifestations of allergies are very diverse and largely depend on the way the allergen enters the body.The intensity of allergic symptoms ranges from mild discomfort and malaise to severe, life-threatening conditions. The following allergic reactions occur most often.
- Allergic rhinitis (allergic rhinitis, hay fever) is the most common type of allergy. it is usually caused by plant pollen and therefore occurs at certain times of the year. In some cases, house dust may be the cause. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis are associated with inflammation of the nasal mucosa: sneezing, burning, profuse clear nasal discharge.
- Allergic conjunctivitis – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye, which is manifested by redness, burning, itching, swelling, lacrimation.
- Urticaria (urticaria) is a rash in the form of pink or red itchy blisters of various sizes and shapes that can migrate through the body, disappearing in one area of the skin and reappearing in another. Acute urticaria usually resolves quickly, chronic urticaria can persist for more than 6 weeks.
- Allergic asthma, in which the ingress of an allergen into the airways causes their narrowing, swelling, increased mucus production, which makes breathing difficult.Most often, there is a reaction to plant pollen, household dust, smoke, animal hair.
- Allergic eczema is an itchy rash on the skin in the form of blisters that burst to form crusts. It can be caused by substances in contact with the skin (cosmetics, synthetic fabrics, plants), medicines, food.
- Anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock) is a serious, life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The most common causes of anaphylaxis are food allergens (eg peanuts), medications (penicillin), insect bites (bee venom).With anaphylaxis, blood vessels dilate and blood pressure drops sharply. Signs of anaphylactic shock may include respiratory failure, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, rash, and loss of consciousness.
Who is at risk?
- People whose parents have suffered from allergic reactions.
- Patients with chronic respiratory diseases.
- People with sensitive skin.
- Those who are often exposed to respiratory tract infections.
First of all, the doctor should conduct a thorough examination and questioning of the patient, try to establish the relationship between the effect of the pathogenic factor and the symptoms. To identify the allergen and exclude other possible causes of a pathological reaction, a number of laboratory and instrumental studies may be required.
- Complete blood count. With allergies, the number of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell that promotes an allergic reaction due to the release of biologically active substances, including histamine, can be increased.
- Test for immunoglobulins E (IgE) in the blood. IgE are specific proteins, the contact of which with allergens triggers the release of active substances responsible for the onset of allergy symptoms. Their level can be increased.
- Test for specific immunoglobulins E and G, that is, the determination of the level of immunoglobulins corresponding to a specific allergen. This helps to identify the substance to which the patient has developed an allergic reaction.
Other research methods
- Skin allergy tests.A small amount of an allergen solution is applied to the skin of the inner side of the forearm, and then an injection is made to a depth of 1 mm (prick test) or a scratch (scarification test). If you are allergic to this substance, redness and swelling of the skin in this area may occur.
- Elimination samples. Contact of the patient with a possible allergen is excluded, respectively, the disappearance of manifestations of allergy indicates that the disease was caused by this particular allergen.
- Provocative tests.The patient avoids the probable allergen (for example, stops consuming a certain product) until the allergy symptoms are completely gone. After that, he is injected with a small dose of the allergen – the return of symptoms confirms the allergy to this substance.
It is impossible to cure an allergy, and its manifestations can be prevented only with the complete exclusion of contact with the allergen. In addition, there are anti-allergic drugs that can reduce the manifestations of allergies.The effect of such funds is based on the suppression of the release of substances involved in the formation of the main symptoms.
Prevention consists in avoiding contact with an established allergen.
Treatment of allergies in adults: methods and prevention
In medical terminology, “allergy” means pathological, i.e. an inadequate reaction of the immune system of a particular person to some substance – an allergen.This phenomenon occurs in the case of increased sensitivity of the body – sensitization. This disease can manifest itself:
- discomfort in the nasal cavity, sneezing or barking cough
- increased lacrimation or runny nose
- skin itching, urticaria, rashes 90 130
The most severe manifestation of an allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock – a quick reaction of the body to an allergen, which manifests itself in the appearance of seizures, loss of consciousness and even the development of a stroke.If you do not take adequate treatment for allergies, the consequences can be very serious.
Types of allergens, mechanism of occurrence and development of reaction to them
The reaction can be triggered by substances that enter the human body from the outside. In this case, we are talking about exoallergens, including 1:
- outdoor and indoor dust, mold
- particles of epidermis and animal hair
- waste products of insects and animals, pollen of some plants
- cosmetics and household chemicals
- food and medicine
Internal allergens are called auto-allergens or endoallergens1.The body’s own proteins, altered by infectious agents or other influences, act as autoallergens. 1 .
When foreign substances enter the body, it begins to produce protein compounds – antibodies, whose task is to neutralize foreign substances. If the immune system malfunctions, too many IgE antibodies are produced, which are responsible for the development of allergic reactions.
If an allergen enters the body again, processes associated with the production of various special substances and hormones, including histamine, are triggered.The release of the latter in large quantities is the cause of the onset of symptoms characteristic of allergic reactions.
Diagnosis of allergy
Signs indicating allergic diseases often coincide with symptoms of other pathologies.
Therefore, it is necessary first to accurately diagnose allergies and only then to determine how to treat it.
To establish the nature of the allergen, you need to pass tests, conduct a number of laboratory tests: skin tests (provocative and application – patch test), blood test5.In outpatient skin tests, a small amount of a possible allergen is injected into the top layer of the skin6.
Confirmation of the presence of allergies is the development of local reactions in the form of slight swelling, redness, itching.
Provocative tests help determine the type of allergy. Their implementation consists in applying to the skin, mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, conjunctiva of possible allergens.
Since the reaction is very striking with such procedures, testing should be carried out only in a hospital.
The diagnosis of allergy is also confirmed by the presence of IgE antibodies in the blood, which is detected during the analysis of venous blood in the laboratory.
Allergies: how to treat
Anyone who has encountered an allergy should keep in mind that there are no drugs that can completely cure it. Correct therapy involves the relief of symptoms, and in some cases, their complete disappearance. Treatment should be carried out only in accordance with the recommendations of the allergist after passing all the necessary tests.
The first thing to do before starting drug therapy is to eliminate the influence of the allergen. After that, start taking medications according to the scheme determined by the doctor. These can be tablets, syrup, nasal drops, or injections. Sometimes hormonal corticosteroid medications are prescribed. It is worth remembering that any drugs should be taken only as directed by a doctor and under his supervision.
Given that the causes of the disease are not fully understood, allergy prevention consists in taking all available measures to prevent the ingress of the allergen into the body.You also need to do everything possible to prevent malfunctions of the immune system. This requires:
- give up bad habits
- go in for sports
- eat right
- avoid taking medications without a specialist appointment
1. Fedoskova T.G., Ilyina N.I. Allergic diseases in clinical practice. // Russian Allergological Journal: scientific and practical. Journal of the Russian Association of Allergists and Clinical Immunologists.- Appendix to No. 2. – 2004. – http://rusalljournal.ru/attachment/229_allergicheskiezabolevaniyavklinicheskoypraktike.pdf
2. Revyakina VA, Antihistamines in clinical practice. Discussion questions. A doctor’s view of the usual drugs. // Therapist. – No. 07/10. – https://www.lvrach.ru/2010/07/15081966/
3. Macharadze D. Sh., Anaphylaxis: some risk factors for its development. // Therapist. – No. 04/12. – https://www.lvrach.ru/2012/04/15435392/
4. Allergy – revenge on humanity for its unreasonableness.// Nursing. – No. 5. – 2000. – Portal MEDI.RU. – https://medi.ru/info/12562/
5. Chitaeva VG, Gushchin IS, Diagnostic value of skin tests and determination of allergen-specific IgE in respiratory and food allergies. // Russian Allergological Journal: scientific and practical. journal of the Russian Association of Allergists and Clinical Immunologists. – 2008. – No. 3. – S. 3-14.
6. Fedoskova TG, Ilyina NI, Allergic diseases in clinical practice. // Russian Allergological Journal: scientific.-practice. journal of the Russian Association of Allergists and Clinical Immunologists. – Appendix to No. 2. – 2004. – http://rusalljournal.ru/attachment/229_allergicheskiezabolevaniyavklinicheskoypraktike.pdf
7. Sorokina OI, Allergy prevention and treatment by traditional methods. // Allergy. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment by traditional and non-traditional methods. – Moscow: RIPOL Classic. – 2009. – p. 160. – http://www.tinlib.ru/medicina/allergija_preduprezhdenie_diagnostika_i_lechenie_tradicionnymi_i_netradicionnymi_metodami/p4.php
Tips on how to avoid allergies – Mommy Club. Everything about pregnancy, infant and toddler development
Did you know that approximately 20-30% of children suffer from allergies? One of the most significant factors contributing to the development of this trend is the increase in the level of pollution in industrialized countries. The reason for the manifestation of allergic reactions lies in the immune system: the job of the immune system is to protect us from bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies.When it comes to allergies, the immune system produces an overprotective response to substances entering the body that are harmless in themselves. These are called allergens and are usually made up of protein. The body produces an increased amount of antibodies, resulting in an allergic reaction. You can, however, prevent your child from developing allergies: Adequate nutrition during the first 3 years of life helps to develop a strong immune system.
Genetics play a role in terms of the predisposition of children to develop allergies.If a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has an allergy, the child’s risk of developing an allergy is increased. The best way to determine the level of risk of developing allergies in a child is to carry out the so-called family history collection, during which the pediatrician asks the parents about the possible presence of allergies. The resulting information is then used to estimate the level of risk to which the baby is exposed. You can use our checklist or do your own initial assessment.If both parents or siblings have allergies (such as hay fever or food allergies), the child’s risk of developing allergies is higher than usual. But even if this is the case in your case, you need not worry: an increased risk of developing an allergy does not necessarily mean that your child will actually develop an allergy. With the right diet and other preventative measures, you can help reduce this risk to your baby.
Allergy Risk Checklist
Does anyone in your family have allergies, such as you, your partner, your other children?
Allergy to animal hair
mites and house dust
Source: Allergy Risk Checklist for Pregnant Women
for any of these questions, your child is at an increased risk of developing allergies.Discuss these results with your gynecologist, obstetrician, or pediatrician to be sure.
How can I prevent the development of allergies?
If you have allergies in your family, there are some things you can do during pregnancy to help reduce your baby’s risk of allergies. First, you should eat a balanced and varied diet. You should eat whatever you like and not avoid a variety of foods, unless you yourself have an allergic reaction to certain foods, and, accordingly, there is a need to refrain from eating them.What’s good for you is good for your child. In addition, you can reduce the risk of developing allergies in your baby after birth: breast milk is the best protection against allergies. Breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life will help strengthen your baby’s immune system and reduce the risk of allergies.
What to do if your baby is at risk of developing an allergy
Make sure you eat a balanced and varied diet during pregnancy.