An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E. This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.
Mild allergies like hay fever are very common which cause symptoms such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives (Skin Rash), or an asthma attack. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis.
Test to detect Allergy
A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. If done they should be ordered and interpreted in light of a person’s history of exposure as many positive test results do not mean a clinically significant allergy. Tests include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling and blood tests to look for an allergen-specific IgE.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Allergy
|Nose||Swelling of the nasal mucosa (allergic rhinitis)|
|Eyes||Redness and itching of the conjunctiva (allergic conjunctivitis)|
|Nostrils||Sneezing, coughing, bronchoconstriction, wheezing and dyspnea, sometimes outright attacks of asthma, in severe cases the airway constricts due to swelling known as laryngeal edema|
|Ears||Feeling of fullness, possibly pain, and impaired hearing due to the lack of eustachian tube drainage|
|Skin||Rashes, such as eczema and hives (urticaria)|
|Gastrointestinal tract||Abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea|
Cause of Allergy
Cause for allergy can be placed in two general categories, namely host and environmental factors. Host factors include heredity, gender, race, and age. Major Environmental factors are alterations in exposure to infectious diseases during early childhood, environmental pollution, allergen levels, and dietary changes
Many allergens such as dust or pollen are airborne particles. In these cases, symptoms arise in areas in contact with air, such as eyes, nose, and lungs. For instance, allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, causes irritation of the nose, sneezing, itching, and redness of the eyes. Inhaled allergens can also lead to asthmatic symptoms, caused by narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction) and increased production of mucus in the lungs, shortness of breath (dyspnea), coughing and wheezing.
Aside from these ambient allergens, allergic reactions can result from foods, insect stings, and reactions to medications like aspirin and antibiotics such as penicillin. Symptoms of food allergy include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, and swelling of the skin during hives. Substances that come into contact with the skin, such as latex, are also common causes of allergic reactions, known as contact dermatitis or eczema. Skin allergies frequently cause rashes, or swelling and inflammation within the skin.
Factors that causes Allergy
A wide variety of foods can cause allergic reactions, but 90% of allergic responses to foods are caused by cow’s milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
Non food proteins
Latex can trigger an IgE-mediated cutaneous, respiratory, and systemic reaction. Latex sensitivity among healthcare workers is higher.
The most prevalent response to latex is an allergic contact dermatitis, a delayed hypersensitive reaction appearing as dry, crusted lesions. Those with latex allergy may also have sensitivities to avocado, kiwifruit, and chestnut. These patients often have perioral itching and local urticaria.
Toxins interacting with proteins
Another non food protein reaction, urushiol induced contact dermatitis, originates after contact with poison ivy, eastern poison oak, western poison oak, or poison sumac. Urushiol, which is not itself a protein, acts as a hapten and chemically reacts with, binds to, and changes the shape of integral membrane proteins on exposed skin cells. The immune system does not recognize the affected cells as normal parts of the body, causing a T-cell-mediated immune response. The resulting dermatological response to the reaction between urushiol and membrane proteins includes redness, swelling, papules, vesicles, blisters, and streaking.
Identical twins are likely to have the same allergic diseases about 70% of the time; the same allergy occurs about 40% of the time in non identical twins. Allergic parents are more likely to have allergic children, and those children’s allergies are likely to be more severe than those in children of non allergic parents. Boys have a higher risk of developing allergies than girls, although for some diseases, namely asthma in young adults, females are more likely to be affected.
The hygiene hypothesis was developed to explain the observation that hay fever and eczema. The use of antibiotics in the first year of life has been linked to asthma and other allergic diseases.
Other environmental factors
Allergic diseases are more common in industrialized countries than in countries that are more traditional or agricultural, and there is a higher rate of allergic disease in urban populations versus rural populations.
Cutworms and similar parasites are present in untreated drinking water.
Late phase response
After the chemical mediators of the acute response subside, late-phase responses can often occur. This is due to the migration of other leukocytes such as neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils and macrophages to the initial site. The reaction is usually seen 2–24 hours after the original reaction. Late-phase responses seen in asthma.
The consumption of various foods during pregnancy has been linked to eczema; these include celery, citrus fruit, raw pepper, margarine, and vegetable oil A high intake of antioxidants, zinc, and selenium during pregnancy may help prevent allergies. This is linked to a reduced risk for childhood-onset asthma, wheezing, and eczema. After birth, an early introduction of solid food and high diversity before week 17 could increase a child’s risk for allergies.
Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as antihistamines and decongestants which reduce symptoms of allergy. Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which Allergy caused. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat Allergy but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. Several well-proved remedies are available for homeopathic treatment for Allergy that can be selected on the basis of cause, location, modalities and extension of the Allergy.