When our bodies are under attack by pathogens or other foreign particles that are perceived to be harmful, an immune response is sparked to eliminate the invaders. Our immune systems have evolved a variety of tricks to help identify these attackers and then recruit special cells to the sites of attack that can destroy them and protect the body. One such protective response is the allergic response, though in these cases, the body is overreacting to the invasion of something harmless, sending the immune system into overdrive. Thus, allergies belong to a category of immune responses known as hypersensitivity.
Allergy symptoms vary depending on where the allergen enters the body and the strength of the allergic reaction that occurs. Symptoms may include:
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing and constriction of the airways, sometimes accompanied by asthma.
- Swelling and inflammation of the nasal tissues and sinuses.
- Blockage, feelings of fullness or pain within the ears.
- Redness and itching of the eyes.
- Rashes, eczema or hives appearing on the skin.
- Severe bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting.
If allergies are mild, they may pose little risk beyond annoyance for the sufferer. Chronic allergies, such as seasonal allergies, may keep a person’s immune system in overdrive, however, which can be very exhausting and potentially make them more susceptible to other illnesses and infections. The immune system has limited resources, so if its response is diverted toward something inconsequential, like pollen, it may not be able to adequately fight off other pathogens and infections.
The chronic inflammation associated with allergies can be damaging to tissues, as well, increasing the possibilities of outside infection. Many chronic allergy sufferers also endure frequent sore throats, sinus infections, and skin problems.Causes
Specifically, allergies are caused by the allergens the body encounters. Many allergens are airborne, inducing the allergic response as they come into contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs upon inhalation. Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen, and people may also develop allergies to dust, mold, insect stings, medications and certain foods. Contact of an allergen with the skin can also potentially provoke a response.
We know that allergies can make you feel miserable, particularly if the allergens are difficult to avoid, leaving you in a chronic state of discomfort. Help is at hand. You can identify allergens through blood testing and devise a treatment plan specific to your personal profile.