At least one out of every 5 Americans suffers from allergies. Common causes of allergy symptoms include food allergies such as peanut allergy or milk allergy, and seasonal allergies resulting from grass, weed, tree pollen, or various molds. Cat allergies and dog allergies can also cause miserable symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and wheezing. Allergic skin conditions can cause a rash and itchy skin.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system. People who have allergies have an immune system that reacts to a usually harmless substance in the environment. This substance (pollen, mold, animal dander, etc.) is called an allergen.
What Happens During an Allergic Reaction?
When a person is exposed to an allergen, a series of events takes place:
- The body starts to produce a specific type of antibody, called IgE, to bind the allergen.
- The antibodies attach to a form of blood cell called a mast cell. Mast cells can be found in the airways, in the GI tract, and elsewhere. The presence of mast cells in the airways and GI tract makes these areas more susceptible to allergen exposure.
- The allergens bind to the IgE, which is attached to the mast cell. This triggers a reaction that allows the mast cells to release a variety of chemicals including histamine, which causes most of the symptoms of an allergy, including itchiness or runny nose.
- If the allergen is in the air, the allergic reaction will likely occur in the eyes, nose and lungs. If the allergen is ingested, the allergic reaction often occurs in the mouth, stomach, and intestines. Sometimes enough chemicals are released from the mast cells to cause a reaction throughout the body, such as hives, decreased blood pressure, shock, or loss of consciousness.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergies?
Allergy symptoms can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe (anaphylactic).
- Mild reactions include those allergy symptoms that affect a specific area of the body such as a rash, itchy, watery eyes, and some congestion. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of the body.
- Moderate reactions include allergy symptoms that spread to other parts of the body. These may include itchiness or difficulty breathing.
- A severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the response to the allergen is intense and affects the whole body. It may begin with the sudden onset of itching of the eyes or face and progress within minutes to more serious symptoms, including abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as varying degrees of swellings that can make breathing and swallowing difficult. Mental confusion or dizziness may also be symptoms, since anaphylaxis causes a quick drop in blood pressure.
Does Everyone Have Allergies?
No. Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. People inherit a tendency to be allergic, although not to any specific allergen. When one parent is allergic, their child has a 50% chance of having allergies. That risk jumps to 75% if both parents have allergies.
Integrative Medicine Treatment Options
We combine the best of conventional medicine with the best of complementary and alternative therapies to give you optimal results.
Here are some options we use at Alliance Integrative Medicine LOCATED IN Cincinnati, Ohio
- Medication, Herbal Therapies and Supplements
- Energy Healing
- Mind/Body Relaxation Techniques
Our allergy patients come to us from Indian Hill, Hyde Park, Loveland, Westchester/Liberty Township and Mason as well as Finneytown, Reading, Springdale, Terrace Park, Blue Ash and from all across the U.S.