When a person with allergies comes into contact with an allergen, an allergic response takes place: allergies are growing in Australia and in New Zealand and are affecting around one in ten populations. There are several different causes of allergy, ranging from simple food allergy to potentially fatal reactions. It can also be a combination of multiple factors. In most cases, though, the cause of allergy is simply considered to be the allergen that causes the most reaction.
Food allergies are most common, although there can be other allergies as well. The most common allergies include peanut, shellfish and fish allergies. Allergens can be any material that you may come into contact with which sparks off an allergic reaction. There can be many different allergens, which means that the symptoms that result are different for each person experiencing the allergy.
Many diseases that involve the immune system can result in allergy symptoms, such as hay fever and eczema. These types of allergies often have a hereditary component. Scientists believe that some type of imbalance is responsible for the hypersensitivity that results in allergies, and this is due to changes in the cells’ function that occur during allergy. An alternative explanation for this is that a substance that normally prevents the immune system from reacting to the allergens, causing an overreaction, is missing in the body.
The itchiness and inflammation of the skin, along with small blisters and rashes, can also be symptoms of an allergy. If the allergen is ingested, the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed as the body reacts to it. Allergic reactions to substances on the skin, like soaps, detergents, and cleansers can also produce itchiness and redness in the skin. In some cases, a person may not exhibit any allergic symptoms but still be intolerant to one or more substances that are present in the house.
Some common substances that cause reactions include certain preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, some plant pollens, food additives, nickel, and alcohol. Allergy testing can be performed by a physician or at home using specific products that test for allergens. The most commonly used home products are skin tests, blood tests, or patch tests. A skin test involves putting the patient’s skin under a scratch test, where a substance causes the skin to become inflamed if it comes into contact with the patient’s skin. Blood tests measure the levels of IgE, which is a type of antibody that indicates an allergy, in the blood.
Allergy symptoms are usually mild, but they may be very persistent and occasionally deadly. Fortunately, most allergy attacks are preventable with the right medication and with frequent exposure to the substances that cause the allergic reaction. If your doctor does suspect that an allergy is present, you should go to the allergist for a professional diagnosis. Once diagnosed, you can work with a health care team to develop a treatment plan for your specific needs. Even if you do not have a family history of allergies, there are other things you can do to avoid further complications.