Allergy Causes & Symptoms
Allergies are highly common and everyday more people are becoming vulnerable to allergies. According to a study, as many as 50 million people in the United States are allergic. It is also one of the prime causes behind people missing work and students missing school every year. Unfortunately not many people are aware of allergies and the exact cause of allergies.
An allergy is basically a process wherein our immune system overreacts to certain foreign substances when they come into bodily contact. An allergy can be of different types such as food allergy, drug allergy, insect sting allergy and others. These types of allergies can be acquired or may develop rapidly in an individual. Let us take a look at some of the causes and symptoms of allergies.
Causes of Allergy
There is no specific cause for allergies. Almost any substance can lead to an allergy in an individual who is sensitive to that specific substance. You can easily develop an allergy simply by inhaling or swallowing any substance that may cause your immune system to overreact and might create an allergic response. However, there are some risk factors that increase the chances of developing an allergy. These factors can be divided into two main categories namely environmental factors and host factors.
- Host factors: These mostly include genetic factors, heredity, age and race. Out of these, heredity is the most significant risk factor, which increases the chances of an individual to develop an allergy. For instance, if your parents are allergic then you are also likely to become more vulnerable to allergies.
- Environmental factors: These mostly include exposure to diseases during childhood, dietary changes, environmental pollution and others. The most common environmental factors that may lead to allergies include inhaling of allergens (substances that cause allergies) such as pollen, dust, mold spores, dust mite droppings, animal dander and others. These are also prime causes behind a person developing respiratory allergies.
Viral infections and pregnancy (from mother to fetus) are also some of the risk factors that may contribute towards the development of allergies. During pregnancy and viral infections the body’s defenses are generally low and weakened. In such a case, a foreign body or an allergen has higher chances of attacking the body leading to over reaction from the immune system and cause allergies. Several medications or supplements can also lead to allergies; hence it is advisable that you always consult a physician before consuming any medications.
Symptoms of Allergies
People who are allergic can experience comprehensive symptoms which can affect the skin, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system and in extreme cases can also damage the cardiovascular system. These symptoms are different in different types of allergies.
- Symptoms of respiratory allergies: The respiratory symptoms of allergies mostly include runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. In severe cases, an individual might also experience shortness of breath, wheezing and cough.
- Symptoms of food allergies: Difficulty in swallowing, itching in the mouth, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are some food allergies symptoms. In addition, an individual can also experience abdominal pain and even swelling of the mouth, throat and lips as part of the food allergies symptoms.
Apart from these, allergies can also lead to a range of annoying symptoms such as asthma and ear infections. An allergic person can also experience some other symptoms such as skin related symptoms like eczema and hives, headache, a loss in smelling sensation and disturbances with sleep.