Are people more prone to allergies today, than in the past? Do we have the same allergies as those who lived hundreds and even thousands of years ago? The answers to questions such as these are being sought every single day in research centers, medical facilities, and by parents worldwide.
Allergy or allergic reaction?
In my role as a parent, I am often called upon to wear many hats, and one of them is family physician. It’s often a split-second decision that we make to rush our kids to the ER, call 911, or wait until they can see their doctor. In an allergy emergency, this is sometimes a life or death decision.
Experts believe that allergies begin within our own bodies. The immune system is designed to protect our bodies from any invading body that can make us ill.
In an allergic reaction, our immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless invader, which is known as an allergen, and produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight of the supposed attack.
The reaction occurs when these antibodies travel to the cells that release histamine and other chemicals. This reaction can range from minor annoyances such as a runny nose or watery eyes to life-threatening reactions that require immediate medical intervention.
Known allergens come in many forms
According to experts, there are many known allergens, and they don’t believe they have completed the list of known allergens, yet. Some of the most prominent allergies are to dust, pollen, food, insect stings, mold, latex, medications/drugs, and animal dander.
This list is further broken down and identified by specialists known as allergists/immunologist. There are a variety of tests that can be administered to discover the root trigger of allergies and allergic reactions. Your physician might refer you to an allergist to help diagnose and treat your allergies.
You can become allergic to things
Science is still trying to discover what makes our immune system react the way it does, though there has been much learned in recent years. One such discovery is that we may not have allergies to the same things our whole lives. Sometimes, a childhood food allergy will change over the years, and in other cases new allergies arise after exposure to accustomed allergens.
Symptoms of allergies and treatment
Typically, allergies present themselves in trigger symptoms in the ears, nose, throat, sinuses, lungs, skin, and even the lining of the stomach. In some people, the symptoms of asthma are triggered, and in others the life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis occurs.
Early diagnosis of allergic triggers can allow suffers to reduce the impact that allergies have on their lives. In the case of those who struggle with seasonal or environmental allergies, the triggers are easy to identify and often able to be managed with small changes to daily routines.
Life-saving medical advancements such as the Epi-pen and rescue inhaler have allowed allergy suffers a better quality of life, and immunologists/allergists will continue to discover how allergies affect our bodies.