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So, what are allergies?
To put it simply, an allergy is a reaction the body has to a particular substance. This could be a particular food like nuts or shellfish or something in the environment like pollen. It is estimated around 21 million adults in the UK suffer from an allergy and this number is continually on the rise.
How does an allergic reaction present itself?
Allergic reactions are varied then can range from:
- Skin rashes
- Weeping eyes
- A runny nose
- Minor swelling of the face, lips and eyes
More moderate to severe reactions (Anaphylaxis) can cause more serious symptoms, such as:
- Stomach pain and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness & loss of consciousness
- Swelling of the throat & tongue
These more severe allergies are more commonly associated with people with previous history of anaphylactic episodes, people with moderate/severe asthma and people with underlying heart problems. If you present with any of the above ‘moderate to severe’ symptoms it is imperative to phone 999 and seek medical assistance immediately.
What are the main triggers?
- Grass & tree pollen (Hay Fever)
- Food allergies (certain fruits, nuts, shellfish, eggs)
- Wasp stings
- Pet hairs
What causes the reaction?
Basically, an allergic reaction is when the body’s immune system has misidentified a harmless allergen, such as grass pollen, and reacts to it as a threat. This triggers the ‘Immune Response’ where the body produces antibodies to combat this harmless substance. The next time your immune system encounters the same allergen it remembers the previous encounter and produces more antibodies. This release of chemicals (Histamines) into the body lead to the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction.
How to best treat or manage an allergy?
In a lot of cases the best way to avoid an allergy is to avoid the triggers. Alternatively, there is an abundance of medicines and treatments available to help relieve the symptoms. These range from:
If you suffer or think you may suffer from an allergy then speaking with a pharmacist or healthcare professional can help you make an informed choice should you be considering treatment. Our next blog will look in detail at the medicines and treatments available to treat allergies so watch this space for more information.