Millions of Americans suffer from allergies every year. If you are one of them, you may be curious about what actually happens in your body when you’re having an allergic reaction.
The Science Behind Allergic Reactions
While we don’t know why some people develop allergies, we do know what happens in the body to cause them. Firstly, your body comes into contact with a harmless substance (such as pet dander or pollen) that it deems as dangerous. This can happen from inhaling, ingesting or touching the allergen.
Your body reacts to it by creating antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These will attach to a part of your immune system known as mast cells. These two things binding together causes a release of chemicals such as histamine, which are responsible for your allergy symptoms.
Common Allergy Symptoms
The type of allergy symptoms you have can vary in severity and be different depending on the type of allergy you have. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has a list of usual allergy symptoms, which include:
- Pruritus (itchy skin)
- Urticaria (hives)
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, and airway
- Abdominal cramping
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing and bronchospasm
- Stridor (high-pitched whistling sound while inhaling)
- Syncope or collapse
On rare occasions, people with allergies experience anaphylaxis. This is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that constricts your airways. Symptoms can include a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat dizziness, fainting and unresponsiveness. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek emergency medical care right away.
How To Treat an Allergic Reaction
Some allergies can be managed at home with over-the-counter medications that you can find at Avalina Pharmacy or another local drugstore. However, if those do not provide relief, make an appointment with an allergist. They can run allergy testing to confirm your particular triggers and prescribe treatments such as medications or immunotherapy. If you have severe allergies, you may be prescribed an epinephrine injector to use in case of anaphylaxis.
You may also need to take steps to avoid or minimize your contact with your allergens. This could mean not eating certain foods, staying inside while pollen levels are high, or having an air purifier in your home.
If you would like additional help treating your allergies, call Willamette ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery and schedule an appointment with one of our experts today.
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