An allergy occurs when the body overreacts to triggers that under normal circumstances do not pose any threat to most individuals. Such triggers are referred to as allergens. Various signs and symptoms occur when the body comes in contact with such allergens. Hay fever is a common allergy that occurs when the body reacts to allergens such as pollen and dust. It often becomes difficult to understand which allergens are responsible for the bodys reaction. Therefore it helps to keep a record of the symptoms you are experiencing so that with your doctors help you can identify the triggers and take the necessary precautions to avoid them.
Symptoms of Allergies
The nature of an allergic reaction depends on the area of the body that is affected. Some allergic reactions may be restricted to just one part of the body while others may involve larger areas or multiple bodily systems. The reactions to an allergen may also vary from one individual to another. In rare cases, a sudden and severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur. In such cases it is important to seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are as follows:
- The bodily organs do not receive an adequate flow of blood and this leads to a state of shock. The individual may display symptoms such as sweating, dryness, confusion, anxiety and loss of consciousness. Shock can also lead to death in case timely medical care is not administered.
- There may be difficulty in breathing. The individual may breathe in a raspy or labored manner.
The common symptoms of an allergic reaction are as follows:
- Itching, redness, rash, hives or blistering on the skin
- Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathing difficulty
- Swelling of the eyes, throat, face, lips
- Runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion
- Redness in the eyes
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea
- Sore throat, tiredness
Causes of Allergies
An allergic reaction may occur due to any allergen or trigger. When there is exposure to an allergen, the white blood cells of the body release certain antibodies. These antibodies attempt to seek out and destroy the substance that is threatening to cause illness or infection. They carry out this function by producing certain chemicals and hormones known as mediators. Histamine is an example of a mediator. The mediators affect the localized area and also stimulate the release of additional white blood cells. This complex combination of reactions results in the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis occurs when there is a sudden production of mediators. The time taken by the body to react to triggers differs among individuals. Some of the common triggers of an allergic reaction include:
- Foods such as peanuts, shrimp, wheat, soy, eggs, nuts and dairy products. Food allergies differ from food intolerances. Food intolerances occur as a response of the digestive system, while food allergies occur as a response of the immune system.
- Medications such as antibiotics, anesthetics and vaccines can also trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Some individuals are even allergic to latex rubber.
- Insect bites and stings
- Extreme temperatures
- Stress or other strong emotions
- Animal dander
- Fragrances in perfumes and cosmetics
- Botanical extracts
There are certain risk factors which make an individual prone to allergies. These include:
- Family history of allergies
- Certain medical conditions
- Lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Nasal polyps
- Ear infections
- Respiratory tract infections
- Eczema and other skin conditions
Remedies for Allergies
Treatment for allergies usually involves steps to avoid triggers. Medications and allergy shot may also be given to control the symptoms. There are also some simple home remedies for allergies which help to provide relief. These include:
- Saline is helpful in clearing out the nasal passages and flushing out allergens. Add some salt to warm water and use to cleanse the airways.
- Add apple cider vinegar to water and sip slowly throughout the day. This helps to alleviate the early symptoms of allergies. It is important to continue this treatment until the symptoms subside.
- Garlic is one of the best home remedies for allergic reactions. You can consume garlic cloves with water at night. Garlic supplements are also available in many drug stores.
- Increase your consumption of vitamin C rich foods. This helps to strengthen immunity and protects you from infections and illnesses. 2000mg of vitamin C is the recommended dosage.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of water and consume for relief from allergy symptoms.
- Essential oils are known to be beneficial in relieving skin allergies and hay fever. Pour a couple of drops of basil, lavender, peppermint and basil essential oils onto a handkerchief and place against your nose when you feel the onset of allergy symptoms. You can also use these oils with a diffuser.
- Consume a mixture of lemon and grapefruit thrice daily.
- Quercetin is known to be one of the best natural remedies for allergies. It serves as a natural anti-histamine and hence prevents an allergic reaction from taking place. Quercetin is present in foods such as onions, parsley and apples. Dark berries, olive oil and grapes also contain quercetin. You can even take quercetin supplements in the form of pills or capsules. These supplements also contain bromelain which has anti-inflammatory properties. Bromelain is an enzyme contained in pineapple.
- Home remedies to cure allergies also include honey. Honey contains the pollen that triggers allergies. Therefore by delivering small amounts of the pollen, it helps to immunize the body against the trigger. You can consume a couple of tablespoons of honey daily, especially during hay fever season.
- Sandalwood is one of the most effective home remedies for skin allergies. Make a paste of lemon juice and sandalwood and apply to the affected areas for relief from itching and irritation.
- Mash some almond leaves and apply to the affected skin.
- Skin allergies can be relieved by applying a paste of mashed papaya seeds to the affected part of the body.
- Coconut oil helps to alleviate skin rashes. Add a few drops of lemon juice to coconut oil and apply to the affected areas.
- Poppy seeds are believed to be effective in treating skin allergies. Take one tablespoon of poppy seeds and mix with a little water to form a paste. Add one teaspoon of lime juice to it and apply to the affected skin.
- Castor oil is helpful in treating food allergies. You can consume a teaspoon of castor oil every day on an empty stomach. Castor oil helps to soothe the digestive system by reducing irritation and inflammation.
- Vitamin E acts as a natural anti-allergen and is thus beneficial for those who suffer from food allergies. Take a vitamin E supplement daily.
Diet for Allergies
A healthy diet helps to protect you from allergies and hay fever. Eating the right foods help to strengthen the respiratory system and enables you to breathe better. Certain foods also help to ease nasal congestion. Since allergies are a response of the immune system, it is important to boost immunity by consuming healthy and nutritious foods. Some common foods which help to protect against allergies include:
- Nuts: They are rich in vitamin E which helps to strengthen immunity and protect against respiratory infections. Vitamin E also helps to reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Nuts are also a valuable source of magnesium which improves the functioning of the lungs.
- Grapes: These are rich in antioxidants which help to relieve inflammation in the body. They also help to ease coughing and wheezing.
- Tomatoes, Oranges and Apples: These are important sources of vitamin C which protect against allergies. They are greatly beneficial for those who suffer from asthma.
- Seafood: Cold water fish and some algae sources contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation.
- Spicy Foods: Many people obtain benefit from nasal congestion and sneezing after eating spicy foods. Such foods help to loosen the mucus and also soothe the throat lining.
- Juice: Drink fruit and vegetable juices to detoxify the body and cleanse out the digestive system. When using juice for allergies, ensure that you opt for organic fruits and vegetables.
Suggestion for Allergies
- Even after receiving treatment for allergies, you still need to avoid triggers. Therefore identifying the triggers which evoke an allergic reaction is essential. Once you identify them, you can take the necessary steps to avoid them.
- Maintain a diary of your symptoms such as when they usually occur, what activities you were performing at that time and how long the symptoms lasted. This is highly helpful in identifying the triggers and treating them appropriately.
- A medical alert bracelet or necklace is helpful in case of emergencies as it indicates that you have a serious allergy.
- Quiza Zolkipli, Louise Michaelis, Graham Roberts, Diagnosis and management of food allergy, Paediatrics and Child Health, Volume 22, Issue 7, July 2012, Pages 272-280, ISSN 1751-7222, 10.1016/j.paed.2012.02.003.
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