What Are The Causes Of Allergies?
The causes of allergies are increasingly well known. Different biological mediators are involved in the process of an allergy. And at the end of the chain of biological events, cells secrete a large amount of histamine, which causes the allergic reaction.
Allergy is a disproportionate response of our body to an external agent that is usually harmless (pollen, cat hair, strawberries, etc.).
For the allergic reaction to occur, the body must first contact the offending substance, called an allergen, through the respiratory tract, food or skin. Following this contact, the body produces antibodies directed against the allergen; this is the sensitization phase. It can last for several years.
It is not clear why the body makes antibodies against a particular allergen. Genetic factors undoubtedly play an essential role in our way of life if we believe in the strong growth of allergic phenomena.
After this latency period, if the organism is again in contact with the same agent, the antibodies react. The allergic reaction is sometimes triggered immediately or later; it can take various forms: rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, urticaria.
Main Symptoms Of Allergies
The symptoms of allergies manifest themselves in very different ways. They can appear in a more or less brutal and violent way on different organs and devices. Some of these symptoms are:
1. Respiratory Allergies
They are caused by airborne allergens, pneumallergens, pollens, moulds, dust mites, animal hair, or chemicals such as detergents.
In children, the food allergy can also be expressed by respiratory signs, ranging from rhinitis (hay fever ) often associated with conjunctivitis until asthma attack. The symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose.
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2. Cutaneous Manifestations
These allergies can appear very early in life, such as atopic dermatitis, which strikes infants from the first months of life. The baby suffers from eczemas which itch more or less. The severe forms of eczema are pretty impressive.
This allergy can be food-related caused by a food introduced early, such as:
- Egg white
- Gluten (gluten allergy )
- Peanuts (peanut allergy )
These forms of allergy most often disappear over the years, sometimes in adulthood. Later, these people will risk being victims of contact allergies (to jewellery, watch straps) or occupational dermatitis due to contact with irritating industrial products (cement, pesticides, heavy metals, etc.). The symptoms of this allergy are the occurrence of red, itchy, and flaky skin.
3 – Angioedema
Angioedema affects the subcutaneous tissues and the mucous membranes, especially of the throat. Hypodermis edema occurs. The symptoms are pretty impressive. Angioedema can affect any part of the body, but especially the face. It is dangerous and requires urgent medical treatment because it can cause asphyxiation due to edema in the throat.
4 – Anaphylactic Shock
The anaphylactic shock is a sudden allergic accident that can be fatal cardiovascular failure-circulatory. It imposes urgent measures such as the administration of adrenaline. Some allergens are more likely to cause shock in sensitized people:
- Foods such as peanuts, fish or shellfish;
- Medicines such as antibiotics (beta-lactams) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
- The venoms of snakes, wasps.
Allergies: Sensitivity Tests
The diagnosis of allergy is not as apparent as it seems. Not all allergies are as easy to spot as the classic hay fever, especially in young children. This is why it is better to consult a specialist, an allergist doctor.
To identify an allergy, the allergist has a whole battery of skin and blood tests that will help him make a precise diagnosis.
The best-known method for identifying allergenic substances is the skin test (prick-test) which can be carried out from the first months of life; they make it possible to show the degree of sensitization to an allergen.
Skin tests are the basis for diagnosing an allergy. The principle is simple: we put the suspected allergens in contact with the patient’s skin to interpret the reaction.
To complete these investigations, blood tests can quantify the cells linked to an allergic response. Finally, other provocation or reintroduction examinations can also be performed.
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