The Essential Guide to Allergies

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An allergy is something you experience with your body after your immune system has reacted with something that’s usually harmless. These symptoms result from triggers that the doctors call “allergens,” including mold, animal dander, pollen, certain foods, or things that can be irritating for your skin.

Remember that allergies are common, and you should not feel worried. Most people have allergies; the best thing to know is what causes your body to react this way. It could be one of the things listed above; thus, knowing through an allergy test could help with your treatment.

Things that Can Happen When You Have an Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction will start after you have come into contact with something that triggers it. That can happen when the allergen gets in your body through the skin, swallowing something, or inhaling.

Your immune system will react to the foreign body; therefore, it will make the protein that goes after the allergen.

Histamine and other chemicals will be released into your blood. These will lead to the symptoms you experience.

Symptoms of Allergies

The symptoms of allergies will depend on exposure through your skin, air, an insect sting, or food.

If you have a nasal allergy – an allergy triggered after inhaling something -common symptoms can include:

  • Feeling exhausted or ill
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes

Common skin allergy symptoms include:

  • Red skin
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Rashes and hives

Food allergies may lead to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

An insect sting can trigger:

  • Pain after sting
  • Redness

Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. The good thing to know is that most will go away after the exposure stops. Mild allergies are almost unnoticed, which can make you feel a little “off.”

Moderate symptoms can make you ill, such that you feel like you have the flu or a cold.

The challenge is severe allergies. Their reactions can be extreme.

What Is Anaphylaxis In Allergies?

Severe allergies can be referred to as anaphylaxis. These allergies can affect your whole body. The symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Hives or itching
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, eyelids, and face
  • Hoarseness or tightness in your throat
  • Tingling in scalp, hands, feet, or lips

Remember that anaphylaxis is life-threatening; you, therefore, need to seek medical attention immediately.

When you have an epinephrine auto-injector, you must use it and possible repeat the process after a few minutes if the symptoms don’t improve.

You should also seek medical attention after you receive the shots or if your symptoms don’t stop. That’s because a delayed reaction can likely happen.

How do Doctors Diagnose an Allergy?

When you have a stuffy, runny nose or watery eyes, that can sometimes indicate that you have a cold. However, if you only feel bad while outside, after eating certain foods, or near pets, you could be experiencing an allergic reaction.

People with allergies tend to sneeze a lot or experience rashes or hives in certain parts of their body without it spreading to other parts of their body.

Other people can experience such problems but have a worse reaction, leading to trouble breathing, thus requiring medical attention.

If you know you’re allergic to certain things, stay away from them and take medicine as a precaution. Some allergies are not quickly relieved even after you take over-the-counter medications. You may need to visit an allergy specialist.

The allergist will ask you questions related to your family history on allergies or asthma and current health status. After examining you, the doctor will recommend you to take some tests.

Allergy Tests

There are recommended allergy tests an allergist will advise you to take. They include:

  • Skin Tests

A skin test is a common way an allergist can test for allergies. The method will give the fastest and most accurate results.

With this method, the doctor will use a scratch test. The process involves scratching the skin and putting an allergen on the skin. It can take place inside of the arm or the back. The allergens can include different types of food, fur, some medicines, pet dander, pollen, or mold.

That allows the allergen to get underneath. The skin prick should not make you bleed; you can feel it but it should not hurt. The allergist may use a small needle while putting the allergen under the layer of your skin.

However, the specialist is likely to perform tests on several things simultaneously. When one area swells and gets red like you have a mosquito bite, that would mean you’re allergic to a specific allergen. The test can take 15 minutes or more to get the results.

After the test is over, your nurse or doctor will clean your skin and apply a cream to help with the itching. Any swelling will also go away after 30 minutes or a few hours.

The medicine you take may also impact the results of the tests. Your doctor should inform you whether to stop taking your medication before an allergy test.

  • Blood Tests

The other method that a doctor may use to test allergies is a blood test. This method is suitable for when you take a certain medication that is expected to affect your allergy test results, give you a bad skin test reaction or have sensitive skin.

The specialist will take a sample of your blood and send it to the lab. After a few days, the results will be available and can indicate whether you’re suffering from allergies.

Unfortunately, this method is more expensive to conduct than a skin test.

  • Elimination Diet

The doctor may think you’re allergic after consuming specific food. You may be asked to stop consuming them and see whether it helps with symptoms. The method is referred to as the elimination diet.

You are supposed to cut out specific foods for two or more weeks to check whether or not allergy symptoms show up during that time. The specialist may ask you to continue eating that food again and check whether the symptoms will come back. If you do experience symptoms, it can show that you’re allergic to these specific foods.

  • Oral Food Challenge

The doctor may ask you to do an oral food challenge. It can only be done in a medical office with the presence of an allergist. 

The doctor will give you small amounts of food suspected to cause an allergic reaction and watch for any symptoms. When no signs appear, you get a larger dose, and if you have symptoms, they can stop the test. Common signs expected can be flushed feelings or hives on the body.

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