Allergies – Types, Symptoms and Treatment

What are allergies?

Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to foreign substances, usually harmless to the body. When a person is allergic to a substance, the immune system mistakenly recognizes that it is a danger to the body and attacks it.

These foreign substances that can trigger an immune response are called allergens. Certain foods, medicines, household dust, pollen, etc. can act as allergens.

By coming into contact with such allergens, the immune system produces protective molecules called antibodies (immunoglobulin E). These antibodies cause some cells to secrete various chemicals (including histamine) that, when they enter the bloodstream, reach different organs and cause certain symptoms. The most commonly affected allergy organs are the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, and digestive system.

 Types of allergies

Some allergies have seasonality (spring, summer, early fall) when the concentration of certain pollen in the air is highest. Others are year-round, such as allergies to household dust and animals. Allergies to foods and medicines are manifested every time a person takes the appropriate substances. Most types of allergies are lifelong.

Based on allergens, we can distinguish the following types of causative agents:

  • House dust mites (parasites)
  • Pollen – cereals, trees, grasses
  • Food – cow’s milk, egg white, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts
  • Household chemicals and cosmetics
  • Medicines – antibiotics, painkillers
  • Insect stings – bee, wasp and more.

Pollen is one of the most common causes of seasonal allergies. Represents pollen grains from which the male gametes of seed plants develop. Pollen spread in the air can travel a considerable distance through the movement of air masses. Pollen allergy is known to humans as hay fever.

Risk factors for the development of allergy

  • Genetic predisposition – if a family member suffers from an allergy, the risk is higher
  • The presence of asthma or other allergic diseases increase the risk of hay fever
  • In childhood, allergies are more common in boys

Adverse environmental factors also affect the development of allergies:

  • Exposure to cigarette smoke during the first years of life predisposes to the development of allergies.
  • Rare room ventilation leads to the accumulation of various irritant compounds called irritants. They irritate the mucous membranes of the airways and make it more sensitive.
  • Indoor moisture is a factor in the development of allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucosa) in children and adults. It also creates conditions for the development of pathogenic bacteria and moulds.
  • In high auto traffic, air pollution with various gases such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter increases airway inflammation and increases the risk of allergic disease in atopic conditions.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of allergic reactions can range from mild and minor to extreme. In some cases, allergies can cause a life-threatening condition known as anaphylactic shock (swelling in the throat and shortness of breath, low blood pressure, itchy rash and swelling, nausea with vomiting).

Generally speaking, an allergic reaction causes inflammation in the body, which occurs with a different clinic depending on which system of the body is affected.

Common Symptoms:

  • Itchy skin and rash – the most common is hives and eczema
  • Sneezing – often goes on for days, not always secreting
  • Running nose – the allergy secret is clear and watery, unlike the yellowish colour in the cold
  • Clogged nose – due to swelling of the nasal mucosa
  • Allergic conjunctivitis – Itching of the eyes and irritation, eyelids also swell and flush.
  • Wheezing while breathing

How is a diagnosis made?

Proper treatment requires a correct diagnosis. The most accurate information can be given by performing a blood or skin test that identifies which substance the patient is allergic to.

The skin test involves the introduction of small amounts of purified allergens into the skin (in the arm area between the elbow and wrist) by one of three methods:

  • Scarring test – after the fine scratching of the skin on the micro-trauma, the tested allergen accumulates
  • Sting test – a drop of allergen is first applied to the skin, then it is pierced with the aim of entering the allergen.
  • Intradermal test – the allergen is injected subcutaneously

After a certain period of time, the presence or absence of a skin reaction to the allergen is reported.

The blood test examines the amount of IgE (immunoglobulin E) allergic antibodies in the blood.


The simplest, free and effective “treatment” would be to avoid contact with those allergens to which it has been proven sensitivity. However, in many cases this is practically impracticable ( for example with allergy to household dust).

Fortunately, allergy medicines exist. Sometimes combination therapy with several medications is needed. Only a doctor can determine which type of treatment is most appropriate after making the correct diagnosis.

Some allergy tips:

  • Find out when the pollen season is and consult your doctor;
  • Stay closed on dry, windy days when pollen concentration is high, ventilate infrequently and avoid walking near fields or gardens.
  • Replace air conditioning filters regularly and drive with closed windows.
  • A quick shower and change of clothes help to remove the pollen that has fallen on the tissues, skin and hair when you have been out.
  • Choose the right vacuum cleaner – the best allergy controllers have a HEPA filter. It captures the smallest dust particles and does not allow them to return to the air when cleaning.
  • Do not wipe dust – this causes a strong saturation of the home with large and small dust particles.
  • At high humidity levels at home, purchasing a moisture absorber is a good solution
  • Shower your pets – do not miss the baths, as this risks the accumulation of allergens in the animal
  • Use natural cosmetics, cleansers and detergents to minimize irritation
  • Take inhalations to clear the airways and discard accumulated secretions.

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