Health Tip – What are Allergies? Part 1

Every year you hear about allergy warnings or your friends suffer greatly with allergies. Maybe you are one of the millions who have been diagnosed with allergies. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly allergies mean.

This will be a two part series about the basics of allergies.  First we will define Allergies as a hypersensitivity disorder that causes an immune system response. We will also look at hay fever and food allergies.  It is also important to remember a connection between Asthma and Allergies.

In the second part we will look at the symptoms of allergies and how to diagnose allergies. We will look at Lactose intolerance which is not an allergy response and especially the management of diabetes.

A Hypersensitivity Disorder

Hypersensitivity means that a set of undesirable reactions occur, within the body, as the result of our own immune system reacting from exposure to an allergen. This means, in essence, that a long set of reactions occur, within the body, when we come into contact with a molecule or substance that triggers the hypersensitivity.

In reality, in regards to Allergies, the individual’s immune system is reacting to an otherwise harmless substance from the environment.

There are four types of hypersensitivity.   Allergy is one type or type one depending on how you look at it. The other types are more related to autoimmune diseases.

Hay Fever

It is an allergic reaction that typically causes inflammation to the airways and nasal passage.  Things that cause Hay fever include pollen, dust, animal hair, or animal dander.

These particles are inhaled by the individual and this causes an immune response.

Hay fever is a more general word that involves several allergy reactions. In the end, the body is affected by antibodies, which pushes other cells to come forward and attack. Histamine is a large player in Hay fever and allergies in general.

Food Allergies

Peanuts are one of the more common allergies to foods. The interesting thing is that this food allergy may be outgrown, but in most cases it decreases in severity.

Other tree nuts – pecans, walnuts, pistachios and others are common allergies.

Seeds can cause allergies – sesame seeds and  poppy seeds

Egg allergies occur in a small amount of children and many outgrow the allergy by age 5.

Milk from sheep, goats, and cows can cause an allergy.  This is different than lactose intolerance  which is not an allergy and will be discussed later.

Fish, shellfish, and other seafood can cause serious allergies.

Many other allergies of foods are often specific to the individual.

Role of Allergies in Asthma

Often allergies and asthma are seen in the same patient. This, of course, isn’t always the case. But it can be seen.

Severe allergies can cause difficulty breathing. Asthma is thus a difficulty with respiratory and even an inflammation process.  Asthma can be a spasm of the bronchial tubes.

Often indoor allergies can cause an asthma like response.  This could be the allergen that is causing both an allergic and asthma response.  Therefore, avoiding allergens can eliminate or decreased severity of both asthma and allergies.

Dust mite is one of the most common inside house allergen for children that affect both allergies and asthma.

Check back later for part 2 of this series.

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