Welcome to the allergy guide, where we try to provide information on different types of allergies, what causes the allergic reaction and how it may be treated with an antihistamine.
Allergies are a daily hindrance to many people in the world. They can strike people at any age and involve a number of allergens. Allergens are things the body reacts to in a specific way that can cause discomfort like watery eyes, headaches, runny noses, and other severe allergic reactions. When a person suffers from allergies, irritants can cause mild discomfort to severe symptoms. Different types of allergies cause different types of reactions in the body, but there are some things that each have in common. Some allergies are environmental, while others are more specific and food or drug related. People can be allergic to many different things.
Types of Allergies
What Are Allergies?
Environmental allergies are allergies that apply to things you may come into contact with during the day without having to eat or, in many cases, touch anything. Pollen is one of the most common environmental allergies. Other environmental allergies may include mold and animal allergies. Being allergic to mold also makes a person allergic to drugs made from mold like penicillin. Animal allergies make the body react to the dander of a pet like a dog or cat. People can be allergic to all sorts of foods as well. Food allergies are very common and cover a wide variety of foods.
Many people are familiar with common food allergies like peanuts and strawberries, but there are many other foods a person can be allergic to. For example, people can be allergic to milk, fish, soy and wheat, among others. When allergic to a food, it is important to be very careful because food allergies can cause severe reactions in the body. People may also have allergies to different types of drugs like aspirin, and foods containing sulfites. There are rare cases where a person has a sun allergy, making him allergic to sunlight due to severe photosensitivity.
How Are They Caused?
Allergies are caused by a reaction to an allergen that a person comes into contact with. Pollen allergies are very common and the body reacts to these interactions by releasing histamines into the body. When the body releases histamines in response to allergies, the chemicals promote leaky fluids in the body which cause the common symptoms of water eyes, runny nose, and headaches. Severe allergies can cause bigger reactions that can be life threatening. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and causes itching, swelling, and respiratory distress. Allergies can be treated in a number of ways as well.
How Are They Treated?
Allergies can be treated in different ways depending on how severe the allergic reaction is. The most severe reactions are treated with epinephrine. Epinephrine is artificial adrenaline and this chemical helps to stop symptoms of severe allergic reactions. The chemical constricts the blood vessels and dilates the air passages in the body helping to keep the flood of histamine under control while, at the same time, taking care of the respiratory distress that is common to severe allergic reactions that cause anaphylaxis. Epinephrine can save the lives of people that have a severe allergic reaction, but many allergies are treated differently.
Not all allergic reactions are life-threatening. People have all sorts of allergies that cause mild symptoms that are irritating but will not cause severe reactions like respiratory distress. Most allergies are treated with a common antihistamine.
There are several different types and brands of antihistamines that can be used to ease symptoms. Since allergies cause the flood of histamines in the body, chemicals that counter the effects of histamines are used to treat the symptoms. When the body releases histamines in response to an allergen, the chemicals increase the permeability of capillaries to white blood cells. These are naturally occurring chemicals in the body but, when too much is released, they can have negative effects like inflammation, runny nose, and watery eyes.
An antihistamine acts as a block to this histamine release process. The antihistamine binds to histamine receptors on cells blocking the histamine in its course and decreases the amount of histamine that is able to get through the body. This will alleviate symptoms of many allergic reactions, especially mild ones that only cause the runny nose and watery eyes. The most common treatment for allergies is the use of over-the-counter antihistamine medications. Among these medications, the most commonly used are called H1-antihistamines.
H1-antihistamines are the common chemicals found in medications like Benadryl and other popular allergy medications. These have common side effects like sedation. The reason these drugs cause sedation is that they cross the blood brain barrier, so that they are not restrictive in the areas of the body that they treat. Many H1-antihistamines can also be used to treat insomnia. These drugs should be taken to treat allergy symptoms because the other types of antihistamines are used in other ways. H2-antihistamines, for example, treat conditions like peptic ulcers rather than allergy symptoms.
How Are They Treated?
Allergies are treated at home with over-the-counter antihistamines or with prescription antihistamines given by a doctor. Only the severe reactions are treated with epinephrine and other chemicals. People that have a known severe allergy often are told to carry an EpiPen. An EpiPen is a single injection of epinephrine that can be used in an emergency situation. If someone has a severe allergy to a food, insect or, other allergen, coming into contact with it could be life-threatening, so immediate relief by an epinephrine injection could save his life.
Are They Curable?
Allergies have no cure, but managing them has become much easier over the years. The development of antihistamines has come a long way in the treatment of symptoms and can manage most minor allergies. For the severe cases, prescription antihistamines and EpiPens are available. Since they are just a hypersensitivity to allergens, there is no way to completely cure them. Taking an antihistamine can get rid of the symptoms and let you go on with your day. If you have allergies, make sure to take medication as needed and as directed to avoid any complications.