Allergies, also called hypersensitivity reactions, are exaggerated responses of the immune system (the defenses of our body) to come into contact with certain substances, called allergens. Its appearance is exacerbated in the spring, because one of the most frequent groups of allergens are pollens, reproductive cells of plants that proliferate during this season. Other allergenic agents are environmental fungi, dust mites and the epithelia of some animals, such as dogs, cats, horses and rodents. They can also generate allergic reactions to certain foods or drugs and the bite of insects such as bees or wasps. Learn symptoms of bad allergies so you can avoid the bad effects.
Causes Of Bad Allergies
It is estimated that 20 percent of the population suffers some type of allergic reaction and it seems to be a number that is increasing. Experts estimate that in the next 20 years, allergies could be part of the lives of half of Europeans and 30 percent of the Spanish population. These are the main allergens:
- Pollen: the grasses, the olive tree, the cupressaceae, the arizónicas, the banana of shade and the parietaria are the plants that cause more allergies in Spain, especially during the spring.
- Environmental fungi: these fungi release microscopic particles known as spores that, when breathed, can cause allergic symptoms related to asthma, rhinitis and conjunctivitis.
- Dust mites or house mites: they are microscopic insects that develop in humid and warm places.
- Epithelia of animals: dogs, cats, horses and rodents are those that cause more allergic reactions.
- Certain foods: milk, eggs, seafood, wheat, nuts, peanuts, chocolate and soy are the most common.
In part, the increase could be due to the fact that in industrialized countries children do not have direct contact with multiple microorganisms (viruses and bacteria). This protection could make your immune system not stimulate enough and grow more vulnerable to external agents.
However, it is suspected that there is a hereditary predisposition to allergies, which means that a child whose parents are allergic probably develops some kind of sensitization, although not necessarily to the same substance that their parents reject. For example, if the mother is allergic to shellfish, she is more likely to develop an allergy, but not precisely to that food, but to other allergens such as pollen. It can also favor the appearance of allergies situations in which the defenses of the organism are lowered or weakened (after a viral infection or during pregnancy).
Symptoms Of Bad Allergies
Although they are very annoying, allergies are usually not serious complications, but they can end up in more complex conditions, such as asthma. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of asthmatics have, to a lesser or greater degree, an allergic basis. In these cases, asthma also appears due to the action of allergens and pollens are the main group that triggers it.
Allergic reactions can be mild or severe. Most of them consist only of the discomfort caused by tearing and itchy eyes, in addition to some sneezing. At the opposite extreme, allergic reactions can be life-threatening if they cause sudden respiratory distress, poor heart function and a marked drop in blood pressure, which can lead to shock. This type of reaction, called anaphylaxis, can affect sensitive people in different situations, such as shortly after eating certain foods, after taking certain medications or a bee sting.
Prevention Of Bad Allergies
Avoiding an allergen is better than trying to treat an allergic reaction. Avoiding a substance can mean stopping using a certain drug, installing air conditioning with filters, giving up having a pet at home or not consuming certain kinds of food. Sometimes a person allergic to a substance related to a particular job (for example, flours, woods, etc.) is forced to change jobs. People with strong seasonal allergies may consider moving to a region where there is no such allergen.
When contact with the allergen can not be completely avoided, it is recommended to reduce the exposure to it. For example, a person allergic to house dust can remove all furniture, carpets and curtains that accumulate mites; cover mattresses and pillows with plastic protectors; Remove dust and clean rooms with a damp cloth and quite often; use air conditioning to reduce the high internal humidity that favors the multiplication of dust mites; and install highly efficient air filters. Since some allergens, especially those that transport air, can not be avoided, doctors often use methods to block the allergic response and prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. Allergenic immunotherapy (injections against allergy) can provide a solution in these cases. Antihistamines are the drugs most commonly used to treat allergies (but are not used to treat asthma).
- Avoid exposure to allergens such as pollen, environmental fungi, dust mites or epithelia of some animals would be a measure to take into account to prevent an attack of asthma. In the event that a person is not diagnosed but suspects that they may be allergic to any of these factors, it is advisable to go to the allergist.
- Another precaution that allergic people should take is to avoid intense exercises during the pollination period, as they can make breathing difficult and lead to an asthma attack.
- In case of rhinitis, it is advisable to monitor the appearance of any signs associated with asthma (beeps, fatigue, etc.), since this type of allergy often generates this disease.
- When a person is already diagnosed with allergies, they should remain alert to any signs of aggravation of symptoms and seek medical advice in case of worsening.
Type Of Bad Allergies
The different types of allergic reactions are usually classified according to their cause, the part of the body most affected and other factors. Some of the most common types of allergy are the following:
- Food allergies: are exaggerated responses of the immune system that are produced by the intake of certain foods, such as milk, eggs, seafood, nuts, peanuts, chocolate, soy or wheat. A food allergy is not the same as food intolerance, whose consumption causes undesirable effects, usually of lesser severity.
- Pollen allergy: in the pollination season, allergic reactions caused by grasses, olive trees, cyperaceae, arizonans, plantain and parietaria, among other plants, are frequent.
- Allergic rhinitis: it is a very common allergic reaction. It is an allergy to the particles that transport air (usually pollen and herbs, but sometimes molds, dust and animal dander) that produce sneezing; itching, runny or stuffy nose; cutaneous itching and irritation in the eyes. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal or perennial (year-round).
As each allergic reaction is triggered by a specific allergen, the main objective of the diagnosis is to identify that allergen. This can be a seasonal plant or the product of a plant, such as grass pollen or ragweed, or a substance such as cat dander, certain medications or a particular food. The allergen can cause an allergic reaction when it is deposited on the skin or enters an eye, is inhaled, ingested or injected.
There are tests that can help determine if the symptoms are related to the allergy and to identify the allergen involved. A blood sample can show many eosinophils, a type of white blood cell whose number usually increases during allergic reactions. The RAST (radioallergosorbent) skin test measures the blood levels of specific IgE antibodies to a specific allergen, which can help diagnose an allergic skin reaction, seasonal allergic rhinitis, or allergic asthma.
Skin tests are more useful for identifying specific allergens. The RAST test can be used in cases where it is not possible to perform a skin test or it would not be safe to perform it. Both tests are highly specific and precise, although the skin test is generally a bit more precise, it is usually cheaper and the results are immediately known.
Bad Allergy Treatments
Antihistamines: What you should know
Antihistamines block the action of histamine, a chemical produced by the body in response to allergens. Histamine can cause sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin or hives. Here is what you should know about antihistamines:
- Make them routine: If your doctor warns you to take antihistamines, take your medication regularly during the allergy season to prevent problems such as hay fever. If you take antihistamines irregularly you may experience more noticeable and less effective side effects for symptom control.
- Maintain a suitable schedule: If you are taking antihistamines that make you drowsy, you should take them half an hour before going to sleep. Recently developed antihistamines produce drowsiness in a small number of people.
- Increase use gradually: some antihistamines relieve the symptoms of hay fever in most people without the side effect of sleep. To avoid these problems, your body needs to get used to the medication gradually. Start by taking the pills only at night. If the brand you are using suggests taking two over a 24-hour period, start by taking one pill at night for three days. On the fourth day you can take a pill at night and another in the morning following the instructions of your doctor.
- Try different brands.
- Consider the side effects: Antihistamines do not favor all people. Many people are aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness, but in children and some older people, who sometimes have the opposite effect, produce agitation or hyperactive behavior.
Also known as “desensitization” or “allergy shots” can gradually change the way the body reacts to substances that cause allergy so you do not experience more symptoms. Most people who continue to be vaccinated experience a significant improvement; this improvement is not observed until a few months after the vaccination has begun, and it is not usually clear until after the year of treatment.
Immunotherapy is normally reserved for people who do not get improvements with drugs or who need a combination of drugs that are expensive, who have allergy symptoms for many months each year, and who can not avoid the triggers (allergens) that They produce the symptoms. This type of vaccine treats allergies caused by insect bites, pollen, molds, dust mites, cockroaches or the hair of animals such as dogs or cats.
How does immunotherapy work?
Doctors are still working on the details of how immunotherapy works, but they agree on some aspects. The use of immunotherapy does not mean that your body stops reacting to allergens. Rather, what changes after immunotherapy is the way in which the organism reacts.
If you have not had immunotherapy, your allergic reactions start when your immune system releases an explosion of antibodies. These antibodies are called IgE antibodies, which cause certain cells in the body to release histamine, a protein that gives rise to the symptoms of allergy.
When you are frequently exposed to small amounts of allergens, your immune system changes its strategy. Instead of responding to the explosion of IgE antibodies, your body methodically produces a stable amount of different types of antibodies. In addition, your immune system activates immune cells called “suppressor T cells” that can remove protein from your system. When the system of IgE antibodies and T cells is in full swing, your body seems to have no need to react to an allergic exposure. Furthermore, in the presence of IgG antibodies, IgE antibodies are less likely to trigger the release of histamine.
Are you a candidate?
Most people with moderate to severe allergy symptoms should consider immunotherapy. However, if you experience severe episodes of asthma that are difficult to control without requiring hospital care, these vaccines can be dangerous.
Usted puede ser un buen candidato para las vacunas para la alergia si necesita medicaciones muy caras para tratar los síntomas, si experimenta los síntomas durante varios meses, si es alérgico a sustancias que son difíciles de evitar, como los árboles o el césped. La inmunoterapia se recomienda especialmente a las personas con reacciones alergicas graves a las picaduras de mosquitos.
Usted puede ser un buen candidato para estas vacunas si tiene la certeza de que podrá seguir el periodo de vacunación de manera regular.
- According to the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (Seaic), allergies are behind more than half of the cases of asthma that are recorded among adults and up to 80 percent of the diagnoses of this chronic disease that occur between the child and adolescent population.
- Only the allergy to pollen affects around 8 million people in Spain, according to the estimates of the Seaic.
- In 20 years, half of Europeans and 30 percent of Spaniards could coexist with allergies if the number of cases continues to increase.