Allergies and allergens

Allergies are something unpleasant, but unfortunately common in our daily lives. They are a hypersensitive response of the immune system against substances that either enter or come into contact with the body.

When you have allergy, your immune system reacts by producing antibodies that determine an allergen as harmful, whether harmless or not. The reaction of the immune system can cause inflammation of the skin, sinuses, respiratory tract, digestive system and more.

Allergic reactions can be both mild and severe. It depends on the individual and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis – a severe reaction that can endanger life.

What are allergens?

Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. They can be found in foods and beverages, in the environment, and in everyday cosmetics and more.

Today we will recall the more common allergens and look at others that most of us do not suspect would cause allergic reactions. However, before that, let’s briefly look at some of the allergic symptoms.

Allergic symptoms

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, can be manifested by sneezing, itching of the eyes, nose or palate, stuffy nose, red or swollen eyes. Food allergies can lead to numbness in the mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat, rashes, anaphylaxis and more.

Anaphylaxis can also be observed with insect stinging. Symptoms such as swelling, itching (partial or full body), coughing, shortness of breath, and more are common.

Itching, swelling of the face, wheezing, fever, rash, anaphylaxis – such manifestations occur when allergic to medication.

Type of allergens

  • Milk – allergies to milk proteins in cow’s milk have no more than 5% of children and 1% of adults.
  • Honey – is a widely consumed product and a potential allergen.
  • Eggs – one of the most important allergens. The manifestations are the second most common among infants and young children.
  • Soy beans –  one of the 8 most common food allergens.
  • Nuts – can lead to severe allergic symptoms, including anaphylaxis. These include peanuts, almonds, nuts, hazelnuts.
  • Spices – they contain allergens and are responsible for about 2% of food allergies. Unfortunately, the spice allergy is often undiagnosed.
  • Pets – guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, dogs, cats, and even mice and rats.  They all can provoke itching, hives, or rhinoconjunctivitis. The symptoms occur in 10-15% of people who start a new cohabitation with them.
  • Medications – it is no surprise to anyone that an allergic reaction could be triggered by a medication.
  • Ambrosia – pollen, which is an extremely strong allergenic agent with pronounced manifestations from August to September.
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