There’s a lot of talk about allergies. But just what is an allergy and what causes them? Why do some people have them while others don’t? And why are people with one allergy more inclined to have many?
The immune system is set up to protect our bodies from harmful, foreign substances. Like viruses and bacteria (dirt and germs). Sometimes the immune system doesn’t develop properly or is just oversensitive and doesn’t react right.
In these cases, it reacts to things that aren’t harmful and don’t usually cause people any problems. These things are called allergens. The term allergens are just an easier way to say “things that cause allergies”.
An allergy occurs when your body overreacts to things that don’t normally cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens and your body’s overreaction to them are what causes allergy symptoms.
Common Allergy Symptoms
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes, and roof of the mouth
- Stuffy nose
- Pressure in the nose and cheeks
- Ear fullness and popping
- Dark circles under the eyes
What Causes these Allergy Symptoms
No one really knows why someone develops an allergy. Studies have shown that allergy may be hereditary or genetic. Others say that allergy is just something that develops over time and disappears, also over time. But one thing is certain, there are certain specific factors found in the environment that can trigger the body to develop allergy symptoms.
Allergic Rhinitis – can cause:
- Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes
Food Allergy – can cause:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
Insect sting allergy – can cause:
- A large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site
- Itching or hives all over the body
- Cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath
Drug allergy – can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling
Atopic dermatitis – can cause the skin to:
- Flake or peel
Tips to Prevent and control your Allergy
- Keeping clean is always the first step in controlling allergy symptoms.
- Before bedtime, it is advisable to shower or bathe to wash off pollen and other allergens in your hair and skin.
- Avoid your allergens. This is very important but not always easy. Some allergens are easier to avoid than others. When you can’t avoid an allergen, try to reduce your contact with it.
- Keep a diary. When trying to identify what causes or worsens your allergic symptoms, track your activities and what you eat, when symptoms occur and what seems to help. This may help you and your doctor identify triggers.
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