What causes an allergic reaction?
Picture a battle field as two opposing sides face off against one another. Is this a familiar enemy that you’ve clashed swords with before? Or are you heading into a war with something you have never braved?
In this war, your body is the battle field and the numerous pathogens, whether virus, bacteria, or parasite, are trying to defeat our white blood cells. When these defenders of the body encounter a new enemy, and slay a few of them, they keep a part of them to study. This first encounter is known as the primary response. This response is often slow, unspecific, and doesn’t produce a large number of defenders. This changes once the body has studied the enemy part known as an antigen, it produces specific antibodies to that component. When the pathogen invades again, the body recognizes the hypothetical red plume on their helmet and mounts a rapid and specific response. A greater number of troops have also been trained to specifically deal with this enemy.
In some cases, the body incorrectly identifies certain foods or harmless environmental elements such as dust or pollen as being a severe threat to the body. The white blood cells wrongly train the body to defend against them resulting in an allergic reaction.
What are the symptoms?
The range of symptoms can be incredibly mild, leaving the individual with a slight itching sensation. You may start to notice a bit of a runny nose which progresses into sniffling and stuffed sinuses. As the reaction progresses, the throat gets itchier and the individual may start wheezing as the airway narrows. The release of chemicals in response to the allergen can become so prominent that it starts to affect vital functions of the body in a severe form of the reaction known as anaphylaxis. The skin starts to swell, especially around the mouth and/or eyes, hives begin to form, you may experience vomiting, and become pale and weak, possibly fainting. This life-threatening reaction can quickly turn fatal and must be treated as a medical emergency.
Don’t all allergies develop in childhood?
Studies have shown that younger individuals are more susceptible to a risk factor governed by something known as the hygiene hypothesis. This phenomenon concerns society’s shift towards sterility and cleanliness, but alludes to the potential risks to a child who hasn’t been exposed to microbes or pathogens early on. If the environment they grow up in is free from some common bugs, they may not have the opportunity to develop that primary reaction discussed earlier.
Imagine as a child, you grew up with vegan parents or guardians and had never been exposed to eggs. If, as an adult, you switched your diet, then you would never have been exposed to eggs. With that first exposure you may inadvertently send your body into battle and cause it to misidentify eggs as the enemy.
Before we proceed…
It is important to note that no one is suggesting either extreme of living in a bubble for your entire life or rolling around in dirt for hours on end. The increase in cleanliness and options such as antibiotics and vaccines have helped humans control bugs that have historically snuffed out hundreds of thousands of lives such as measles, typhoid, scarlet fever, mumps, and whooping cough amongst others. The goal is education.
I used to have allergies as a kid…is there a chance of them coming back?
Every allergy sufferer probably wishes they could tell you that once you’ve ‘grown out of them’, there was no chance of your allergies returning. Countless factors in the world make you susceptible to your allergies returning, or even developing new ones, such as:
- Age! As you proceed through your many long years, the body is constantly changing. Certain hormones or nutrients take center stage depending on the demands of the body at that particular time in your life.
- Pack your rooms and get ready for a new start in a new city! Moving is considered an incredibly stressful event as you try to get all of your ducks in a row. A buyer or renter for your old place, budgeting for your new place, checking wants off of your checklist – location, distance to work, distance to activities – and potentially finding a new job or school for the children. That is a very small sample of a very long list. This new residence may have different levels of pathogens, or plants you have never encountered which could induce allergies.
Do the symptoms stay the same if I develop allergies later in life?
Yes. While they may wax and wane in their severity, the symptoms themselves are very consistent.
Is there anything I can take to lessen my symptoms?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The sugar-, lactose-, and gluten-free homeopathic preparation known as Allergy Relief might just be your saving grace. Depending on your preference, this product comes as a tablet, tincture, or a nasal spray. A clinical study where participants utilized the tablet form to combat their allergies showed promising results with over 88.5% reporting an improvement in their allergy symptoms.
Would changing my diet have any impact?
It goes without saying to avoid the food causing your allergies, but certain foods may help alleviate certain symptoms. Warm foods or beverages have the benefit of thinning out the thick mucus that contributes to a stuffy nose. A great way to achieve this goal is with green tea which contains natural antihistamines, the chemical released in mass during an allergic reaction. Now go boil that kettle and soothe your symptoms with a hot cup of tea.