Understanding The 3 Common Causes Of Allergies And Their Effect On The Body

February 21, 2014 |

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For people living with allergies, the allergy symptoms can often make a mess of our days and set our sneezing, coughing, and itching allergies off like a switch. It can be a horrible time, and one that cannot be avoided entirely. However, in order to have a fighting chance to manage our allergy symptoms, it is important to know the enemy. So the question that comes to mind is how do we get allergies? What are the causes? And, most importantly, what can we do to prevent them? Here are the three main causes of allergies, and what a person can do to prevent them.

Pollen And Dust As Allergy Triggers

For those suffering from allergies, the knowledge that pollen and dust can trigger allergies is well known, but this information is important nonetheless. For the most common type of allergy, commonly called hay fever, these substances are a major trigger that can easily set off symptoms that are similar to those we can expect from a cold. Such symptoms can include a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and coughing. With this allergy, the unfortunate part is that both of these substances are, for the most part, unavoidable. That is the main reason why nearly 20% of the world’s population is subject to this type of allergy.

The next question that comes to mind knowing that pollen and dust cause allergies is why our bodies respond to these substances the way that they do? What is happening is that the body is overreacting to what it believes to be a harmful substance. This overreaction comes in the form of the body producing inflammation-causing chemicals called histamines and sending them into the bloodstream to promote an immune response. The end result is swelling and all the other unpleasant side effects that those with allergies are quite aware of.

As for how to manage the symptoms, there really is no single answer. Performing a thorough home cleaning is probably the best way to minimize the problems when at home. However, even with the cleanest of homes, many with allergies may still have to use allergy medications in order to truly manage their allergy symptoms.

Specific Foods As Causes Of Allergies

While food is another well known cause of allergies, even many people who have such allergies do not know why these foods can be so harmful to our systems. For those with food allergies, peanuts, fish, protein, and other otherwise harmless foods can end in shock, pain, or even death. Yet, most of the population can and do eat all of these foods on a daily basis so the obvious question is why do some people have such severe reactions?

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the immune system makes cells, called antibodies, that memorize what bacteria, viruses and fungus “look like” so the body can protect itself. In the case of people with food allergies, these same cells memorize how certain foods “look like” at a chemical level. A healthy immune system also creates cells that store inflammation causing chemicals for ready use in the event of an attack. In combination, these different cells work together to release large amounts of inflammation causing chemicals into the bloodstream the next time the body is exposed to that type of food.

Chemicals like histamine, amongst others, cause massive inflammation, itching, and hives. In the most extreme cases, they can cause a potentially life threatening reaction, called anaphylaxis, in which there is so much inflammation in the airways that they actually block air flow. In other words, the body thinks that the substance being eaten is harmful, and is reacting as such, but causing unintended side effects in the process. No one fully knows exactly why some people get food allergies, while others do not, but, for those unfortunate enough to have a food allergy understanding is at least a way to reduce the risk.

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Category: General Health, Symptom Information

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