Allergy symptoms are caused by the body’s immune system reacting to what it believes to be a threat to your body. Many different things can cause allergies and they may start at any point in your life, some can be merely an annoyance whereas others can cause very serious life threatening illness. Most causes of allergies are harmless to anyone but sufferers of that particular allergy, your immune system has identified them as a threat in error and is acting to protect you from the perceived danger. It is the over reaction to a harmless substance that can be very dangerous rather than the substance itself.
Causes of allergies
There is some genetic markers for having allergies, if one of your parents has some kind of allergy you have a 33% chance of developing and allergy of some sort and if both parents suffered the likelihood that you will goes up to 70%. The type of allergy is not inherited at all just the tendency to develop one of some kind and this can happen at any time in life. There is no full understanding of the trigger that makes you allergic to something, you may have eaten shell fish all your life and then one day exhibit shellfish allergy symptoms when you are tucking into a nice lobster tail and once it has been triggered there is no going back. It seems that your health at the time may play a part. If your immune system is weakened it may react badly to something that was previously considered innocuous. At some point your body decides that shellfish is a threat, you become sensitized to it and will from that day forth be allergic to shellfish.
Shellfish Allergy Symptoms and Treatments
The body reacts to allergies in a number of ways, all of which are caused by a sudden release of histamines into the bloodstream. The majority of the symptoms are caused by swelling of some sort. A swelling in the nasal cavity resulting in a running nose and the classic tongue swelling from eating foods that are an allergen to you. The danger arises when the swelling spreads to airways and can cause asthma attacks and constricted airways. It may take a certain amount of an allergen to cause a reaction, one peanut may be fine but two make you swell up like a balloon.
Diagnosing the Allergy
Diagnosing some allergies can be easy, eating a prawn immediately results in symptoms so you can be pretty sure what the allergen is.
Others can be harder to determine and doctors may ask you to keep a food diary and then eliminate certain items from your diet to see if your symptoms improve. Skin tests can determine the causes of allergies that are not food based such as dust or animal hair and blood tests may also be used to help diagnose the problem.
Treatments for allergies generally work by calming the symptoms, eye drops for itchy sore eyes, nasal sprays to reduce swelling in the nasal passages and lotions to calm rashes. Antihistamines work by blocking or reducing the histamine that is released into your blood flow during an allergic reaction and so reduce the symptoms. These drugs are often the first thing to try as they can generally control allergies that are not too serious, they can cause drowsiness so it is important to take them at the end of the day and always let your doctor or pharmacist know if you are on any other medication.
If your allergies suddenly become worse, it may not be an increasing reaction to the original allergen but rather the development of a new one which can make diagnosis complicated. You should try and isolate the conditions under which you have a reaction and you should get an idea of the cause.
Allergic reactions are generally a fairly minor irritation to sufferers but if you have a serious allergy it can cause you problems. Always carry an adrenalin shot if you need to and keep a spare at home. You should also wear a medical alert bracelet in case you are with people who do not know of your allergies. Hepa filters in your home can help with airborne allergens, and careful reading of food labels should protect you from edible ones.