Allergies are ailments, the meaning of which comes from the Greek words: allos – another and ergon “- action. Allergy means hypersensitivity – excessive body reaction when in contact with allergens (eg bacteria, viruses, chemicals, foods, medicines, etc.); is a civilization disease of the 21st century. It is impossible to permanently and completely cure allergies.
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ALLERGY – DEFINITION
Allergy is an inappropriate reaction of the human immune system to allergens, which are quite numerous in the environment. This ailment is considered to be the most frequent in the modern world. In healthy people, allergens do not cause any symptoms or sensitization. The immune system is responsible for controlling whether foreign molecules can adversely affect health and take possible actions to protect the body.
The most common allergens in the world:
pollen of plants (eg grasses / trees),
dog or cat fur,
The contact of the organism with a specific substance does not immediately cause allergies. This happens at the next contact with the allergen.
Drugs such as painkillers or penicillin may also trigger allergy. Some are even sensitized by latex, mainly medical personnel who use latex gloves on a daily basis. There is a certain division of inhalant allergens, which is related to the time of impact on the body, which is why we can talk about allergens:
year-round (eg allergy to house dust),
seasonal (eg allergy to plant pollen that occurs in a specific time of the year).
THE MOST FREQUENT ALLERGIES
1. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever – this is an acute, allergic rhinitis, which occurs mainly in spring or summer; it is caused by pollen from some plants and fungi and their spores.
itching of the nose,
itching of the walls of the throat and eyes,
dripping from the nasal watery secretion,
Allergic rhinitis may also occur in the form of non-seasonal catarrh. Its symptoms are similar to hay fever, but they occur throughout the year. Sensitization leading to non-seasonal catarritis is most often caused by house dust mites, pet dander and mold spores. In the case of allergic rhinitis, it is first of all necessary to eliminate allergenic factors from the patient’s surroundings and seek the advice of an allergy doctor. In some cases desensitization is possible.
2. Some types of urticaria – hives (the effect of histamine secretion) appear on the skin, often accompanied by unbearable pruritus.
3. Anaphylactic shock is the most serious form of allergic reaction. It occurs suddenly and relies on disorders of many organs. It may appear as a result of blood contact with a foreign protein (eg serum protein blood transfusion) or after eating something that a person is allergic to (eg peanuts).
violent feeling of anxiety,
a feeling of palpitation in the chest,
itching in the throat,
In the course of a severe form of allergy, blackouts and collapse may occur. It is a condition that is a direct threat to life and must be treated in a hospital!
4. Food allergy is most common in children. It can, however, appear even in a 40-year-old person. The most common reason is allergy to cow’s milk proteins, or actually its ingredients:
In some people food allergy occurs in the family. Sometimes it is accompanied by asthma and skin hives.
ALLERGY – GENERAL SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of allergy often disappear spontaneously – as long as this does not happen, it is necessary to eliminate the sensitizing factor from the daily diet. Food allergy may manifest itself in a mild manner – there are bloating, periodic vomiting and / or diarrhea. In more severe cases, however, it may resemble acute poisoning.
The first contact of the body with the allergen causes that it begins to produce IgE antibodies and becomes ready to produce a large amount of immunoglobins. Antibodies have the ability to recognize molecules that are found in our body, e.g. mold elements in the air. They perceive it as a foreign and threatening organism and therefore start the process of their destruction. The body, wanting to defend itself against the invasion of negative molecules, becomes an inflammatory state, manifesting itself, for example, by swelling and rash.
Subsequent contact with the allergen can even lead to anaphylactic shock, the most common symptom being fast erythema, runny nose and nasal congestion, rash, redness of the skin, swelling or blisters. In some patients, the allergic reaction ends with acute abdominal pain and diarrhea. It should be remembered that anaphylactic shock can be very dangerous because there is an immediate drop in pressure and thus life-threatening.
We can divide immunological reactions into:
type I – immediate, anaphylactic (symptoms occur after 15-20 minutes),
type II – cytotoxic,
type III – intermediate (immune complexes); occurs after about 6-12 hours,
type IV – cellular (tuberculin test carried out before vaccination for tuberculosis).
Other symptoms appearing in the course of allergy are:
shortness of breath,
redness and itchy eyes,
HOW TO RECOGNIZE ALLERGY?
In contrast to allergies from other ailments, it helps the time and circumstances of its appearance, because the symptoms of allergy appear only due to contact with the allergen. In determining the factor responsible for allergy helps:
Skin test: confirmation that we are dealing with an allergy is not easy. Skin tests and measurement of specific IgE antibodies are most often performed for this purpose, however, these studies are not always conclusive.
It happens that a patient registers a high level of IgE antibodies, however skin tests do not show any allergy to any of the common allergens;
In diagnosing food allergy, the best is the elimination diet, which consists in excluding the suspect factor from the daily diet. However, for the detection of asthma, a spirometric test is necessary, which measures the amount of inhaled and exhaled air and performs static and dynamic measurement of this air, taking into account the speed of its flow in the airways.
TREATMENT OF ALLERGIES
It is impossible to completely cure the allergy, it usually lasts until the end of life, sometimes only symptoms can be extinguished. In the situation of intensification of symptoms, pharmacological treatment is introduced, and patients are advised to avoid contact with allergens (it is important that the patient knows as much as possible about their illness, then the situation of unnecessary exposure to a sensitizer can be avoided).
Unfortunately, if you are allergic to plant pollen, avoiding the allergen is much more difficult. In order to cure allergy, specific immunotherapy is used.
Desensitization is the process of administering allergen-containing vaccines in a rising concentration pattern. Desensitization is primarily aimed at suppressing the patient’s reaction to the allergen and preventing the development of bronchial asthma.
Nasal corticosteroids in the form of an aerosol and oral inhalers or tablets are also useful in the treatment. As nasal drops and aerosols, cromoglycans are used that have a long-lasting effect. On the other hand, in inhaled asthma patients, inhalations from the betamimetic group (short-acting) are administered temporarily.
Allergies greatly deteriorate the patient’s life, which is why it is important to quickly recognize and implement the appropriate treatment. Thanks to this, the quality of life can significantly improve.
POLLEN SENSING – HOW TO FIGHT WITH IT?
The most important thing is to properly prepare for the pollen season – for this purpose it is worth visiting a doctor more often. One of the ways is to leave the sea or the mountains in this period, because the pollination of the same plants appears at different times in individual regions of the country. In addition, allergy sufferers should constantly monitor the dustiness calendar and implement a procedure to avoid allergies. Currently, there are special dust filters on the market that protect the rooms in which we stay.
The most common sensitizing plants are:
birch (dust from March to May),
alder (from February to April),
nettle (from May to September),
mugwort (from July to September),
rye (in May and June).