The term allergy refers to the exaggerated immune response to certain foreign substances that normally may be harmless. These substances, which trigger an allergic response, are called allergens. The allergens may not trigger a similar response in everybody, and may remain harmless for others. Some of the common allergens include pollen, mold, certain foods, medications, animal dander, and dust. Allergic reactions are very common among people, and are seen to affect almost two individuals out of 10.
Allergic reactions often follow a pattern. Once the allergen reaches the body through inhalation, consumption, or by touching, it triggers a series of reactions in the body on those who are susceptible. The first reaction in the body is the production of specific antibodies that can bind to the foreign particles. These bound antibodies then bind with mast cells in the blood that release a number of chemicals into the blood. The most important among the chemicals is histamine, which results in the symptoms of allergic reactions. The severity of the symptoms of this condition vary depending on the individual.
Some of the common symptoms of allergic reactions when the allergens are inhaled, or make contact with the skin, include:
- Itchy eyes
- Watering of the eyes
- Runny nose
- Skin rashes
- Presence of hives on skin
- Peeling of skin
If the allergens are in the consumed food the symptoms of allergic reaction may be:
Insect stings usually have a totally different set of symptoms including:
- Edema at the site of sting
Allergic reactions to certain medication are characterized by:
- Swelling in face
- Skin rashes
Symptoms of allergic reactions can be categorized on the basis of severity, which differ depending on the individual. If the symptoms are mild, the person may not realize its presence, or may tend to ignore it. The symptoms may disappear when the exposure to the allergens are stopped. A person realizes the presence of allergic reactions in the body when the symptoms are moderate.
In severe cases, the allergic response is called anaphylaxis, which is characterized by:
- Severe itching all over the body
- Difficulty in breathing
- Throat pain
- Tingling sensation in hands and feet
One should immediately seek medical attention if you have the symptoms of anaphylaxis, as it may progress rapidly.
- Allergic reactions consist of itchy eyes, watering of the eyes, runny nose, skin rashes, tiredness, hives, and peeling of the skin.