Immune system is tuned to protect us, but in allergy it turns against us. Allergic responses could be both minor or severe depending upon the variants. At worst, an allergan can lead to anaphylactic shock, which demands immediate medical attention to prevent serious illness or death in a few cases. People with asthma and eczema, are other examples.
Here is the list of common allergens:
Certain foods like fish, shellfish,milk,nuts,eggs, chocolate, wheat, soya
Antibiotics - Tetracycline, Penicillin
Other drugs - Insulin
Venoms - Bee, Wasp, Snake
Others such as Dust, Pollen and Moulds
Iodine- containing dyes used in certain X-ray Investigations, etc
How to spot an allergy?
One may start to recognise a seasonal pattern to certain symptoms, or that they only happen when there is a pet in the house or while dusting.Certain blood tests help in identifying whether a reaction is allergic or not.But, they might not be able to narrow down the allergen that is causing it.
Respiratory allergies tend to cause hay fever and asthma. Intestinal allergies cause diarrhoea and vomiting plus stomach ache. Skin allergies may cause a rash called hive (urticaria) that might look like a nettle sting but is often more widespread.
A true food allergy should be suspected if the person has repeated symptoms, such as abdominal pain,diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and cramps after eating a particular food.The only way to test for a food allergy is to follow an exclusion diet & reintroduce the excluded food to see if there is a recurrence of the symptoms.
Following symptoms may require Immediate medical attention:
- Wheezing or difficulty in breathing
- Inflammation of the eyes, nose, digestive system, etc
- Tightness in the throat
- Trouble speaking or Hoarseness
- Swollen tongue, lips or throat
- Abdominal pain, Nausea or vomiting
- Fast pulse or heartbeat
- Dizziness or Anxiety
First Aid Steps
- If there is any swelling around the face or neck, any difficulty breathing or symptoms threatening loss of consciousness such as dizziness, get medical help instantly.
- With any severe reaction, look out for any allergy information or medication the patient might be carrying.
- If conscious, help the patient into a position that aids breathing.
- Try ice on swellings due to insect bites. Try using a wrapped ice pack or bagful of frozen vegetables. Scrape off the stinger and elevate the stung part in a sling if possible.
- Calamine lotion and ice are useful for itchy rashes or insect bite reactions.
- In case of severe allergic reaction i.e. anaphylaxis, patients must always stock two epinephrine injection kits and keep them readily handy. On noticing any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis, autoinjector as a precaution should be used which would be harmless. Emergency Services have to be contacted even if the injection has been used.
- While for treating the mild allergy symptoms like hay fever or hives an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-allergy medicine can be given.
- For stuffy nose,an OTC decongestant can be administered.
- For watery itchy eyes,OTC allergy eye drops help.
- Itchy allergic rashes can be treated with cold compresses and an OTC topical cream.
- In the long run, avoiding the allergen is the best option.