Most people consider allergy to be a
not-so-serious problem, maybe because they are generally not life-threatening
or debilitating. But ask someone who
sniffles 365 days a year with a tissue in the hand through his day-to-day
activities, and you'll know how uncomfortable it is to bear with it.
Statistics reveal that around 30 years ago, one
in every 5 people suffered from some kind of an allergy. However, the numbers
have now increased at an alarming rate of 3 in every 5 people getting affected
by allergies. With the winter season in, it's important to take note of all
possible measures you can take to keep yourself and your family from getting
affected by allergens. Read on...
The human immune system is equipped with
numerous mechanisms; each one very meticulously crafted so as to cater to
respond to every different attack the body may suffer. An allergy is a simple
response of the immune system to something that has entered the human body,
which is usually not harmful. This response may trigger a series of physiological
actions to take place, including asthma, eczema and rhinitis.
exactly happens to the body?
When the body is exposed to a substance that is
considered dangerous or foreign by the immune system, the white blood cells
kick into action and produce antibodies which link themselves to the antigen.
During this antibody-antigen linkage, chemical substances known as mediators
are released, which target that specific part of the body that is most
susceptible to infection and harm, thus causing symptoms such as hives and
an allergy develop?
An allergen is a substance that may cause an
allergy. On exposure to an allergen, the body produces a very specific antibody
for the antigen present in the allergen. This process helps the body remember
the antigen it was exposed to (sensitization). The next time you're exposed to
the same allergen, your body goes into overdrive, secreting that specific
antibody, releasing more mediators, and causing severe symptoms, known as an
factors may cause an allergy to develop?
There are a number of reasons a person may be
susceptible to allergy. Listed below are a few of them.
The Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America estimates that for a child whose parents both suffer from
allergies, the risk of being allergic may be as large as 75%. For a child who's
either one of the parents suffer from an allergy, the risk may go down to 50%.
Family history is thus, of prime importance when it comes to susceptibility of
now a known fact that our lifestyle and diet play an enormous role in
maintaining overall health. The Gaur Research at the University of Michigan
revealed that color additives like cochineal and carmine dye, which are usually
used to add color to our read-made jams and confectionaries, can trigger
allergies. Processed foods and adulterated packaged products are loaded with
chemicals and preservatives, to which your body may develop an allergy.
Our homes aren't safe either. The carpets and
air-conditioners gather dust and are breeding areas for many moulds.
individuals, elderly, children and pregnant women are more under the risk of
developing an allergy than any other individual. Crash diets and prolonged
fasting can also strip your body of the nutrients it requires for protection
against different agents.
temperature rise and drops and fluctuating rainfall spells contribute to an
increase in the number of weeds that produce allergic pollen grains. Wind-blown
dust carries these pollen grains to new places, affecting more people.
exposure to antibiotics:
A new research from the Yale School of Public Health
suggests that children who are given antibiotics, especially those under the
age of under 6 months are 52% more susceptible to be allergic later in their
medications can I take to reduce the symptoms?
Through removing the exposure of the allergen is
the best way to keep yourself from an allergic attack, sometimes, when the
symptoms turn worse, you may require medications. In such a stage,
anti-histamines are the best; since they mute the chemicals (histamines)
released into the blood vessels and control the severity of the symptoms.
You can try both short acting and long acting
anti-histamines. Your doctor may also suggest the use of bronchodilators to
treat blocked airways and open up swollen air passages. For reactions such as
eczema, topical steroidal or non-steroidal ointments can be applied.
the common tests to diagnose allergies?
A simple family history check is enough to let
your doctor decide the cause of your allergy. Other tests that may help your
doctor diagnose your case are listed below.
known as ImmunoCAP, this blood test is carried out in two parts. Firstly, the
total IgE in the body is calculated to determine if the individual is suffering
from an allergy or not. The blood from the patient is mixed with different
common allergens to check whether an allergic reaction occurs or not. If the
test is negative, the second step is carried out.
skin is marked by small squares and a drop of different suspected allergens is
placed on different squares and then pricked, to allow the different allergens
to enter the skin. Physical changes such as redness, swelling or itching on a
particular square indicate the exact allergen.
hair removal creams and hair dyes suggest this test to be carried out before
use of the product to rule out the possibility of contact dermatitis. A small
patch of skin is usually exposed to the possible allergen to note if any
cut down the risk:
your family from allergies this season. Here's a list of what-to-do.
Keep the car windows
rolled up-pollutants from smoke and dust can trigger allergies and also give
rise to many lung diseases.
Stay away from
cigarette smoke-the smoke from the cigarette tends to worsen the symptoms of an
Eat organic foods-they
have lower shelf life but are free from pesticides and toxic chemicals.
Avoid unnecessary use
Keep your bathrooms
dry-it avoids mold from growing.
Clean the room-make
sure every area is dust-free, including the AC.
Minimize your child's
exposure to the deadly three-sandpits, perfumes, and smoke (insect repellents
and incense sticks).
Prevention magazine-December 2012