What Are Allergies?

peanut allergiesLet start with something simple Cathy… For those unaware or unaffected by allergies, a) LUCKY YOU and B) this blog post is for you. I’ve got the low down on the different types of allergies and touch on a few of the major allergies that affect so many.

For some, it happens almost abruptly. For others, it is subtle, gradually making itself known after some time. You feel your skin start to itch and swell up and discover a rash developing on the surface. Or maybe you begin to find it hard to breathe a few minutes later after finishing a dessert at a restaurant that you didn’t know included nuts. Yes, allergies are a common hindrance for many people throughout the world. Many reactions range from mild to life-threatening, and it’s all the more upsetting and nerve-wracking if you have a child that possibly suffers from them. It is important to know the different types of allergies so that you can learn how to spot symptoms and treat them accordingly. Let’s consider the four main types of allergies – skin contact, injection, ingestion and inhalation.

Skin Contact
A lot of people have to be careful about what they allow their skin to touch. Any type of contact made with an allergy trigger by the skin can send the skin into a panic and cause it to think it is being attacked. Antibodies start to swarm the area where contact was made and a red inflamed rash starts to form. Plants like poison ivy or poison oak can cause the skin to break out in unbearably itchy rashes that are hard to ignore. Stinging nettle plants can also cause irritation due to the small needle-like hairs that release histamines when touched. Grass is also a huge irritant to people if they spend too much time outdoors around it. Some plants that contain chemicals called psoralens cause phytophotodermatitis when your skin comes under ultraviolet light. Tea tree oil and calamine lotion can work wonders for these external skin ailments. The most important thing is to probably avoid scratching and touching other people. A nice hot bath filled with baking soda or Epsom salt can alleviate itching and pain.

Other people sometimes tend to find themselves sneezing and wheezing around man’s best friend. It can be particularly upsetting for kids, being that they enjoy pets. Animal dander, pet hair, and the like can set off fits of sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes. Some families choose to avoid getting pets all together while others who only experience mild discomfort, make it a constant habit to trim their pets fur and bathe them often.

hayfever-allergic-reactionDuring the spring, pollen is hard to avoid. It covers almost everything outside from cars to houses and buildings. Pollen can cause hay fever in many individuals making it hard for them to breathe due to stuffed and runny noses, sinus pressure, itchy and watery eyes and a hoarse throat. Some people have to deal with this all year while others only face problems during certain seasons.

Another skin contact allergy is latex. Gloves, rubber, balloons, and bandages containing latex are a source of discomfort for people. Try to keep children away from the balloons. Health care employees, people who’ve had surgery, and others in the medical area are the ones who are affected the most.

Injections
Injecbee-stingstion allergies are those that are capable of making their way into your bloodstream. Things like bee stings, spider bites, or medicine can occasionally cause a mild to fatal reaction to those who unwittingly receive them. Bee stings can be painful and cause swelling around the area the stinger has entered. If you’re only mildly bothered then removing the stinger can help matters. Using a credit card or another object to scrape the area and then icing it works wonders. Take a pain reliever to ease discomfort. If you’re child is stung do not give them Aspirin. The same remedies can work for mild spider bites.

If you have a drug allergy, then certain medicines may not be safe for you to take. Penicillin, insulin, and other antibiotics cannot be taken by people who are allergic. Some anti-seizure medication can also cause allergic reactions in people. Your doctor may give you a skin test to see if the drug is causing your symptoms, or if your reaction was severe, give you different medication.

Ingestion
Different types of food can create mild to serious reactions and sicknesses in people. Seafood, nuts, dairy, and other foods can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, itching, hives and other ailments if ingested. Most people think they have a food allergy, but sometimes they might simply have food intolerance. There’s a difference between the two. With a food allergy your body reacts negatively to ingested foods and your immune system proceeds to attack the source. Food intolerances happen when food like milk, for example, is simply not able to be digested and processed properly in the body. It may result in the same symptoms, but it is up to your doctor to decide which of the two you or your children have.

Inhalation
allergies-hayfeverBreathing in dust mites, mold, pollen, and other irritants in the air can cause sneezing, red and itchy eyes, coughing, congestion, and other sinus problems in people. More severe reactions may cause throats to start to close and eyes to swell shut. Allergy sprays and drops have been proven to be most effective in neutralizing the symptoms. Cleaning and disinfecting has also improved the situation of many. Vacuuming the house, dusting, spraying, and washing articles can improve air quality and give you cleaner oxygen to take in. Your doctor can prescribe medication if these methods do not help.

Allergies can prove troublesome and hard to deal with but they do not have to rule you or your child’s life. Consider your lifestyle and daily habits. Maybe a change is all that is needed to alleviate your suffering and save you a trip to the doctor’s office. However, if your allergic reactions are on the serious side, it would be wise to consult your physician to go over treatment options, run tests, and decide what action needs to be taken. Who knows, it may very well save your life if a family member forgets to leave nuts out of the cake recipe.

If you’e like more information about various alleries, one of the best websites I can recommend is The Allergen Bureau. I spent hours scanning their website when my daughter was first diagnosed, you can check them out here.

Cathy

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