An allergy is a disorder of the immune system. Some people may have allergic reactions to normally harmless substances found in an environment. Substances that cause such reactions are called allergens. Common allergens include pollen, mold and animal dander.
Allergies are not a rare occurrence. In fact, at least two out of every ten Americans have to deal with allergic problems.
Development of Allergic Reactions
An allergy occurs when a person is exposed to an allergen through swallowing, inhaling, or any form of contact with the skin. After the exposure, a number of reactions are put into motion:
- The immune system starts to react by producing a specific type of antibody, IgE. These antibodies are created to detect and destroy allergens in one’s body.
- The antibodies find their way to mast cells. Mast cells are a form of blood cell found in the airways, intestines or elsewhere. People are more vulnerable to allergens because they have these cells.
- As allergens bind to IgE and the mast cells simultaneously, they cause the cells to release chemicals like histamines, which trigger allergic reactions.
Symptoms of Allergic Reactions
Symptoms that may occur after inhaling or touching an allergen:
- Eye watering or feeling itchy
- Sneezing in rapid sequence
- Nose running
- Skin rashes
- Feeling tired or ill
- Hives (a rash with raised red patches)
Depending on the form of exposure, allergic reactions can change. For example, when someone eats spoiled foods, he or she can also have allergic reactions. Allergens in the food can cause stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea.
Another example is an insect sting. Other than pain, swelling and redness in the affected area are likely.
The severity of allergic symptoms varies from person to person. Milder symptoms sometimes are not even noticeable or easily overlooked. Moderate symptoms make you sick as if you have caught a cold or fever. When the symptoms are severe, you will have an awful feeling or even become incapacitated.
But don’t worry. Usually, when you stop the exposure, these symptoms will go away as quickly as they occurred. And air purifiers can alleviate or prevent allergies by removing the allergens in the air.
Experts name the most severe allergic reactions anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis are usually widespread, not just in a small area where you’ve been exposed. They include:
- Hives or itching all over
- Difficulties with breathing
- Throat feeling swollen or hoarse
- A tingling sensation in the hands, feet, lips or scalp.
Anaphylaxis can be fatal. It’s extremely dangerous and requires immediate medical treatment. The whole reaction process may happen in a very limited time. So if you have similar symptoms, don’t hesitate: head for a doctor at once.
Is Everyone Susceptible to Allergies?
The answer is no. Usually, people inherit allergic tendencies from their parents. If one of their parents has allergic problems, it’s a fifty-fifty chance they will have allergies, though the allergen source may differ. But when both parents have allergies, the risk will jump to 75%.
According to experts, air purifiers are a great way to combat allergies. Check some of the best air purifiers for allergies here.