Due to our lifestyle and an ever increasing problem of air pollution, and due to a more frequent use of additives and preservatives in foods and other products intended for customer use, the modern man is surrounded by an ever increasing number of potential allergens.
Allergies are among the most common health problems of the modern age. Because of our lifestyle and ever increasing air pollution, and due to a frequent use of additives and preservatives in food and other products intended for consumer use,
the modern man is surrounded by an increasing number of different potential allergens. Respiratory allergies are the most common, followed by allergy to various food ingredients (food products, additives, preservatives, food colorings), being most commonly manifested by cutaneous symptoms, as nettle rush or allergic dermatitis and intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.
Allergy is in simplest terms, an immune system disorder. It is defined as an excessive reaction of the body to an otherwise harmless substance.
A person suffering from certain allergies actually has an altered immunity and the body is too sensitive to certain substances from the environment, which are otherwise met daily. These substances are called antigens or allergens. Allergies were first identified and treated in the early 20th century by Viennese physician Clemens von Pirque, who noticed in some of his patients specific reactions to certain stimuli such as dust, pollen and food. In people who are not allergic, the defense system remembers allergens as harmless substances and it does not take any action when encountering such substances. In allergic individuals, defense system reacts violently as if it were an infection, thus resulting with allergy symptoms.
There are various allergens. Some airborne, so we call them – inhalant allergens (grass pollen and flowers), and some we can get from food – food allergens (eggs, milk, peanuts). In addition, allergies may develop due to the sun, various animals (dogs and cats), mites, fungi, some drugs (penicillin), preservatives, additives, pesticides and so forth.
Allergies can occur as skin allergies, allergies to medicines and vaccines, insect sting, food allergies, allergic airway disease. Of all the allergies, the most common ones are skin allergies. The symptoms of allergies depend on the way in which the allergens enter the body. If we breathe (inhalant allergens), symptoms occur in the nose, eyes, sinuses or throat. Here we have allergic rhinitis as the most common one. Allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the nasal mucosa, which results in nasal congestion, increased secretion, sneezing and itching of the nose. Because of the cold-like symptoms, it is important to learn to distinguish allergies from colds. The common cold is often followed by a temperature and symptoms disappear much quicker than is the case with allergies. The symptoms of allergies are reduced only if the therapy starts, and they depend on the period of exposure to allergens. Food allergy manifests itself in digestive system problems, as well as skin rashes, nausea and vomiting. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and life threatening.
The symptoms of allergies depend on the way in which the allergens enter the body.
The treatment of allergies begins with removing or avoiding allergens.
Because of the cold-like symptoms, it is important to learn to distinguish allergies from colds.
For all types of allergies most important thing is to remove harmful causal factors -allergens.
The treatment of allergies begins with removing or avoiding allergens. If you are suffering from allergies to pollen, it is important to be informed about the state of pollen in the area where you live. Such pollen tables, so called pollen calendar, are specific for each area. Opening the windows should be avoided at the time of the flowering as well as physical activity in the open because then a larger amount of pollen enters the respiratory system. If possible, vacation should be planned at time of pollen season in your residential area. It would be good then go to places where there are fewer allergens, eg. the islands or mountains. Regular ventilation should be carried out when there is the lowest concentration of pollen (early morning and late evening). If you are allergic to house dust mites, it is important to remove out of the the room carpets, curtains, stuffed toys, pillows of feather. For all types of allergies most important thing is to remove harmful causal factors -allergens. Things like health education, the education of children and parents and the proper application of medicines should not be neglected by any means.
Medications for allergies (antihistamines) act only on the symptoms of allergies, but do not cure them, while for some types of allergens there is a specific therapy, which prevents the immune response to the allergen, and it is called hyposensitization.
The things that connect the common cold and allergy are watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and stuffy nose. What sets them apart are fever and cough that occur in the common cold, and severe itching characteristic of allergies. The most common symptoms of allergies are reactions in the upper and lower airways. The upper is a rhinitis, manifested in congestion, runny and itchy nose, sneezing intensely, itchy and watery eyes, while in the lower airways of asthma and the symptoms of dry cough, shortness of breath with a “whistling” and occasionally choking. The airways are the most affected in the case of hay fever, but allergies may manifest themselves in other parts of the body, depending on the type of allergen.
There may be problems with the digestive system, nausea and fainting, various swellings and irritation of the skin. It all depends on the type of allergen that causes the reaction. In addition to local symptoms that are limited to a certain part of the body (e.g. redness and itching on the hand after touching a dog or reaction on the spot of a bee sting), an allergic reaction can be spread throughout the body and cause serious health problems. Such a reaction is called anaphylaxis and can lead to tachycardia and arrhythmia, a problem with blood vessels system, coma, and even death, and serious consequences may occur in allergies to medications.
The airways are the most affected in the case of hay fever