Allergies are a common sight, especially during the spring and summer months. But how exactly do allergies develop, and what is considered an allergy? Read on to learn more:
Types of Allergies
There are several types of allergies, all of which have different causes and symptoms that affect the body differently.
Seasonal allergies are brought upon by pollen in the air, and they are one of the most common types of allergies out there. Seasonal allergy symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and itchy nose or eyes. Since these symptoms are similar to the common cold, seasonal allergies are often identified as “hay fever.”
Food allergies are yet another common type of allergy, but unlike hay fever, these allergies are brought on by the body’s reaction to certain chemicals in foods. Food allergy symptoms include tingling sensations in the mouth and throat, swelling around the tongue, lips, face, and throat, hives, and in some cases, anaphylaxis.
Similar to seasonal allergies, pet allergies feature symptoms quite identical to the common cold. A stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes are to be expected. In some cases, people with pet allergies may experience pain from congestion and a cough. Pet allergies are caused primarily by fur and pet dander.
Insect allergies are caused by the body’s reaction to stinging insects like bees, hornets, fire ants, and the like. When an insect stings someone, it releases a small amount of venom. Allergic reactions to this venom tend to worsen its symptoms. The most common insect allergy symptoms include itchy skin, hives, swelling around the sting area, coughing or chest tightness, and in some cases, anaphylaxis.
Latex is a natural rubber that comes from trees, and latex allergies can be very dangerous in some stages. Mild latex allergy symptoms include a rash, hives, and itchy skin. Moderate symptoms like coughing, wheezing, a runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing are much more severe, as they can lead to anaphylaxis.
Mold allergies occur when the body reacts to inhaling mold spores. Mold allergy symptoms are similar to seasonal allergy symptoms, but mold and fungi can grow anywhere, meaning mold allergies may last year-round. Common mold allergy symptoms include a runny or itchy nose, postnasal drip, itchy or watery eyes, and a scratchy throat. In some cases, mold allergies may cause the skin to appear dry and scaly.
Drug allergies revolve around how someone’s body reacts to a chemical in a drug. Unlike side effects, these reactions are not typically expected from the drug itself and may occur when someone takes a drug with a similar chemical make-up. Doctors will most often have to test for drug allergies in patients. Common symptoms include hives, a rash, swelling around the face, and anaphylaxis.
Allergies and the Immune System
While all allergies may be different, they have one major thing in common: their cause. Allergic reactions occur when a harmless substance (like pollen) enters the body. For someone with allergies, their immune system creates antibodies for the allergen in question and attacks it. This overreaction causes the symptoms associated with most allergies.
How Allergies Develop
Allergies develop with the immune system. As the immune system creates antibodies to fight off foreign bacteria and viruses, it creates the immunoglobulin E antibody (IgE for short). IgE acts as the body’s messenger for foreign substances and will trigger the immune system to attack. For people with allergies, they have much more IgE in their bodies than others. Because of this, the body may overreact when encountering specific allergens, similar to how it would when someone gets sick.
If you or a loved one is concerned about potential allergies, allergy symptoms, and more, speak with your primary care physician. To browse face masks, gloves, and other products that may reduce allergen exposure, visit Medical Supply Depot.