Allergy | Symptoms, Causes, Types, Tests, Treatment
1) Allergy- An overview
Metaphorically, allergy means strong dislike or aversion (for instance, he is allergic to smoking and alcohol).
In medical science, an allergy is the response of the Immune system (it includes the organs and processes of the body that provide resistance to infection and toxins. Organs usually include the thymus/ bone marrow/ lymph nodes) to a foreign substance that is not typically harmful to the body. These foreign substances are called allergens. The allergens mostly include food/ pollen/ fur/ dust to which the body, fully or partly, become hypersensitive.
In an allergic reaction the body’s immune system creates antibodies to fight off foreign substances (dust/ mites/ pollen/ medicine etc.) that are usually harmless. However, sometimes the body’s immune system identifies some substances as harmful. Even though they are not. When this occurs, it is called ‘allergic reaction’. The allergens can be anything stretching from food and medication to environments. When the body comes in contact with these allergens in some way or other. It can cause mild symptoms (like skin irritation/ watery eyes/ sneezing etc). In extreme condition, allergy can lead to Anaphylaxis (it is a serious life threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic reactions occur to foods/ insect stings /medications/ latex). The allergic reaction can also take a serious turn, such as respiratory problem and cardiac arrest.
So far as the time for allergic reaction is concerned. The reaction can occur after several hours (particularly, if the allergen causes a reaction after it has been eaten). In very rare cases reactions develop after 24 hours. Traumatically, anaphylaxis is a sudden allergic reaction that occurs within few minutes of exposure.
2) Allergy Symptoms
Most common symptoms pertaining to allergies are stated below.
- Cough difficulty : It involves chronic, forced and dry cough. Sometimes blood comes out with cough.
- Breathing difficulty : Allergy mostly causes breathing difficulty. In some cases breathing difficulty may be a symptom of lung or heart disease or it may be the outcome of obesity.
- Irregular breathing : Irregular or labored breathing is an abnormal respiration caused by lung health problem.
- Wheezing : Wheezing is high pitched whistling sound made while one breathes. It is distinctly heard when the patient exhales. But in some cases it can be heard even when one inhales. Wheezing is a serious breathing problem that requires an immediate diagnosis and treatment
- Itchy throat : Itchy throat can also be a symptom of viral or bacterial infection.
- Sore throat : It is pain, scratchiness and irritation of the throat that often worsens the condition while swallowing food. The most common cause of sore throat (pharynxgitis) is viral infection, such as cold or flu which resolves of its own
- Swelling of throat and tongue : In food allergies and bee sting allergies, the tongue as well as the throat can swell. But it is less common for the tongue to swell (as compared to throat).
- Difficulty in swallowing : It is also called dysphasia. It is usually a sign of the problem with throat ( or esophagus- the muscular tube that moves foods and liquids from the back of the mouth to stomach)
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- Abdominal pain : The pain occurs between the chest and the pelvic region (lower abdominal cavity). The pain can be crampy/ achy/ dull /sharp/ intermittent.
- Hives: Hives occurring in the hands are itchy, red, raised welts on the surface of the skin. Usually caused by allergic reaction.
- Skin bump: It can range from very small and painless to large and painful condition. Bumps are normally accompanied with redness, swelling and irritation which is a chronic skin disorder.
- Itchy eyes: It occurs mainly due to allergy to cold.
- Watery eyes : This refers to over secretion of tears usually caused by the irritation or inflammation of the eye surface. The factors creating the condition are allergies, eyelash or eye lid problems.
- Conjunctivitis: It is the inflammation or swelling of conjunctive (the transparent layer of the tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye). A virus or bacteria can cause conjunctivitis.
- Runny nose: Allergies as well as various irritants cause the runny nose in which case nasal tissue is inflamed.
- Post nasal drip: In this condition extra mucus drains down the throat which causes tickling, coughing and soreness.
- Rhinitis : It is also known as coryza which is an irritation and inflammation of the mucus membrane inside the nose. The condition occurs along with stuffy and runny nose as well as sneezing and post nasal drip. The inflammation occurs on account of allergens (in addition to viruses, bacteria and irritants).
- Rashes: It is also known as dermatitis. It implies the inflammation of the skin or eczema- a chronic skin disorder that includes itchy/ scaly rashes
- Mold : It is a fungus that grows in the form of multi-cellular filaments called hypae.
- Nausea : It is a feeling of sickness and discomfort with an inclination to vomit.
3) Allergy Causes
The common causes of allergies are : food / insect stings / medications. Additionally, environmental and genetic factors, to a large extent contribute to allergic attack.
(Environmental factors include: soil/ dust/ pollen/ climate/ natural vegetation/ land form/ air pollution etc. And genetic factors include a small inherited genes often acting together with environmental factors)
4) Allergy Types (allergies occurring in different parts of the human body)
4.1) Allergy in eye
4.1.1) What it is
Eye is the most essential and valuable of all human sense organs. So, any discomfort and trouble caused to the eye will be a shock to the whole body. The indispensability of eye is well explained in its metaphorical use. (For instance, every child is the apple of the eye i.e. the dearest to its parents).
Eye allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment (called allergen). If the eyes itch/ burn/ become red, then it is a condition of eye allergy. This is called allergic conjunctivitis.
4.1.2) Eye allergy symptoms
Symptoms include : red irritated eyes/ itching/ tears or runny eyes/ swollen eye lids/ soreness/burning pain/ sensitivity to light. It may range from mild irritation to severe inflammation impairing vision
4.1.3) Eye allergy causes (allergens)
- Outdoor allergens (Pollen from grass/ trees/ weeds).
- Indoor allergens (pet dander/ dust mite/ mold)
- Irritants (Smokes from cigarettes and running vehicles/ perfume/ diesel exhaust)
4.1.4) Diagnostic tests for eye allergy
If symptoms of eye allergy persist or medications bring no relief, then the doctor will review medical history and make an interrogation over the symptoms. Conduct some tests to ascertain the root cause of eye allergy. The tests include:
- Examination with a microscope which can clearly detect the swollen blood vessels on the surface of the eyes.
- Certain types of white blood cells can be tested that appear on the part of the eyes affected by allergies. This involves gently scraping the conjunctivitis (the inner lining of the eyelid)
4.1.5) Eye allergy management and treatment
The 1st and the best approach for treatment is to prevent particularly the seasonal. Perennial form of eye allergy through avoiding the allergens that mainly trigger the symptoms.
220.127.116.11) Managing conditions (outdoor)
- It is essential to stay indoor as long as possible when pollen pollution are at their peaks (especially during mid morning and early evening when the wind is blowing pollen around).
- It needs to avoid using window fans that can draw pollen and molds into the house.
- And It is good for eye health to wear sun glasses when going out of home. And it is equally important to properly wash face/ eyes/ hands as well as rinse the mouth after reaching home.
18.104.22.168) Managing conditions (indoor)
- It needs to keep the windows closed and use air conditioning (both at home and in the car). Further, the air-conditioning equipments need to be regularly cleaned.
- It is important to reduce the exposure to dust mites (especially, in the bed room). Ana it is also important to use cover for the pillows/ comforters/ mattresses and wash the bedding frequently using hot water (at least 100 degrees F)
- It Is essential to limit the exposure to mold /keep the humidity low at home between 30%- 50%. Additionally, bath/ kitchen/basement should be regularly cleaned.
- The floor needs to be cleaned daily with coarse damp rug (rather than applying dry sweeping)
22.214.171.124) Managing exposure to pets
- Properly washing the hands (especially before meal/ breakfast) after patting the domestic birds/ animals.
- The pet animal/ bird should be kept out of the house as far as possible.
- It needs to close the air ducts connecting the bed room, if the bed room is fitted with forced air control/ cooling/ heating equipments.
4.1.6) Eye allergy types
Although, eye allergy is a type under the broad head ‘Allergy’, but again eye allergy can be further sub-categorized as follows:
126.96.36.199) SAC (Seasonal Allergy Conjunctivitis)
It is considered the most common type of eye allergy. Patients experience symptoms (such as, itching/ redness/ burning/sneezing/ nasal congestion/ clear watery discharge attended with hay fever and other seasonal allergies) during late winter, spring, summer or fall depending on the type of plant protection. Patients suffering from SAC may have chronic dark circles (known as allergy shiners) beneath the eye. The eye lids may be puffy, inflamed and in addition bright light may be annoying and irritating. Over and above , the itching may be so severe that patients may rub the eyes frequently making the symptoms worse and infectious.
188.8.131.52) PAC (Perennial Allergy Conjunctivitis)
The PAC occurs throughout the year (as the name implies). Symptoms may be the same as the SAC, but tend to be milder.
184.108.40.206) VKC (Vernal Allergy Conjunctivitis)
It is a more serious eye allergy than SAC or PAC. It may occur throughout the year.
Symptoms may worsen depending on the seasonal variations. About 75% of patients already had either eczema or asthma. Symptoms include itching/ significant tearing/ production of the mucus/ photophobia (aversion to light) /feeling of sensation in the eye, as if some foreign body is present.
Caution: If left untreated, it may impair vision.
220.127.116.11) AKC (Atopic Kerato Conjunctivitis)
The allergy primarily affects the older people (mostly having history of allergy dermatitis). Symptoms are: severe itching/ burning /redness and more importantly, significant production and deposit of thick mucus, such that after getting up from sleep in the morning, it becomes very difficult to open the eyes as the eye lids are stuck together.
Caution: If left untreated, it may result in scarring of the cornea and its delicate membrane
18.104.22.168) CAC (Contact Allergy Conjunctivitis)
The eye allergy may result from the irritation caused by the contact lenses. or by the proteins from the tears that bind to the surface of the lens. Symptoms include: redness/ itching/ mucus discharge and more importantly, contact lens discomfort.
22.214.171.124) GPC (Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis))
GPC is associated with wiring contact lenses. It is a severe form of eye allergy in which case individual fluid sacs / papules form in the upper lining of the inner eyelid. Symptoms include: itching/ tearing/mucus discharge/ poor tolerance to wearing contact lenses/ foreign body sensation/ blurred vision (it is the loss of sharpness of eyesight making the objects appear out of focus and hazy. The primary causes of blurred vision are refractive errors., near sightedness or farsightedness. Blurred vision can affect one or both the eyes)
4.2) Allergy in hands
Seasonal allergies and skin irritants include hand and foot eczema (pompholyx) showing tiny itchy fluids. And blisters on the hands/ fingers/ often the toes and the feet.
As an effective treatment and preventive measure, alcohol based cleaner should be used which is less irritant than water and soap and more useful to clean as well as disinfect the hands (preferably, before and after meals)
4.3) Allergy in lips
in addition to properly aligned upper front teeth, healthy lips are indispensable to gift a pretty smile, which becomes difficult when the lips are swollen in the wake of allergy reaction. Lips become swollen if fluids build up in the skin tissue or if there is underlying inflammation. This causes them to appear larger (than usual).
Swollen lips have a range of causes which vary from normal to potentially dangerous condition. Allergies that cause swollen lips are triggered by a host of factors:
- Environmental factors (pollen/ mold/ dust/ pet dander which are tiny particles of skin shed by pet animals)
- Food allergy (it is triggered by mainly milk and egg)
- Angioedema (It is a short term condition that happens as an adverse side effect of medication that often affects the lips).
- Antihistamine (It helps treat most of the minor allergic reactions regardless of the causes. It is a type of medicine used to treat the common allergy symptoms) is the only treatment procedure to cure allergy in lips.
- Conclusively, swelling in lips is not a serious condition that vanishes on its own within a few days. However, if swelling is painful, then it needs to consult a physician.
4.4) Allergy in throat
Allergy is the prime cause to sore throat. It is often induced by post nasal drip. Sore throat is the result of exposure to an allergen and occurs when congestion in the sinuses drains down the throat.
Common sore throat symptoms include: sneezing/ runny nose/ itchy nose/ coughing/ scratchy throat/ itchy and watery eyes
Treatment procedure includes the following rules:
- Warm liquids (such as hot tea) can be a comfort to sore throat
- Gargling with warm salt water can also help and soothe.
- Staying away from caffeinated beverages
4.5) Allergy in face
A nice smiling face means a happy peaceful life. So a face without having any injury or allergic reaction is always desirable.
Allergic reactions that affect the face can lead to raised welts in addition to swollen lips and watery eyes. Beauty products and hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis. It is an allergic condition with symptoms: chronic cold/ runny and stuffy nose/ sneezing/ itchy and watery eyes) often cause this allergic reaction. Treatment procedure includes:
- To soothe at once the allergic reaction experienced by using anti-inflammatory cream (containing 0.5% hydrocortisone)
- To cool the affected area on the face by applying ice or cold compressor as soon as the allergic reaction is detected .
- And To stay hydrated by increasing water and fluid intake
- To apply warm compressor afterwards so as to promote the movement of fluid build up.
- To take more rest
4.6) Allergy in blood
If the patient’s immune system attacks the red blood cells (after receiving blood given by the donor), then it is a case of Hemolytic reaction. In such case one may have an allergic reaction to blood transfusion as well. This can include hives and itching.
5) Allergy in babies
5.1) Meaning, cause and symptoms of baby allergy
When the babies have allergic condition, it is the result of an inappropriate response by the immune system. Symptoms mostly arrive with runny nose. Additional symptoms include: watery eyes/ cough/ nasal congestion/ sneezing/ rash/ upset stomach which are especially short-lived.
Skin allergies in the babies occur when the baby skin is irritated by some allergen or when the baby produces the chemical histamine (It is a chemical naturally produced by human body and is found in certain foods) triggered by an allergen. The irritants may be even dirty drapex/ drool/ soaps/ detergents which can also cause allergic reaction in the babies.
It needs to be mentioned that catching cold in the babies sand allergies are not the same. Cold usually subsides within 7- 10 days, but allergies do not.
5.2) Diagnostic tests for baby allergy
Percutaneous (or prick test) and intra -dermal (a thin needle is used to inject the diluted allergen into the skin) are 2 types of skin tests that apply a diluted allergen to a prick in the top layer of the skin
5.3) Treatment of baby allergy
Using a hypoallergenic moisturizer (after the baby’s bath can help to prevent dry skin. Further, moisturizer also provides a barrier to help protect the skin from the irritants. Additionally, using 1% hydrocortisone cream can treat skin rashes relating to eczema or other allergic reactions.
6) Allergy during pregnancy
If the patient already has allergy, then pregnancy can make the situation worse. The pregnant woman must consult a physician before taking drug to treat allergies. However, for safe and effective treatment, certain antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays can be used.
Conclusively, skin changes during pregnancy are normal occurrence. And hives during pregnancy are less common. However, hives may occur during pregnancy on account of foods/ insect bites/medicines/ chemicals.
7) Allergy during winter
During the dry cold winter season, people may experience varying allergy symptoms on hand (such as, redness/ flaking/ blister// cracking/ chronic skin thickening). Additionally, pain and itching may also occur. These skin irritation during cold dry winter occur on different parts of the body (such as, palms/toes/feet in addition to hands). During the winter season, another form of eczema that hits the hands/ palms/ fingers is dyshidrotic eczema (pomphlyx) which is related to allergies as well as stress
As an effective treatment and preventive measure against allergy irritation on hand skin, alcohol based cleaner should be used which is less irritant than water and soap and more useful to disinfect the hand.
8) Food allergy
A food allergy is a condition in which certain foods trigger an abnormal immune response. Veritably, food intolerances are often mistaken for food allergies. However, food intolerances never involve immune system. As such, food intolerance may impact quality of life. But it is never life threatening.
8.1) Symptoms of food allergy
Various symptoms that are usually experienced during food allergy include:
- Swelling of the tongue/ mouth/ face.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Itchy rash (Itchy rashes and scaling are skin disorder. It is usually caused by pressure on the skin)
8.2) Cause of food allergy
Food allergy is caused by the immune system wrongly recognizing some of the proteins in foods as harmful when the body launches a range of protective measures including releasing the chemicals (like histamine which causes inflammation).
For he patients having food allergy, a small amount of specific food protein can trigger an alarming allergic reaction.
8.3) Categories of food allergic reaction
8.3.1) Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction
Symptoms resulting from the body’s immune system makes the antibody known as Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) which reacts to certain foods. And is found most common among the infants and the children. The foods causing allergic reaction mainly include: egg/ milk/ tree nut/ pea nut/ soy/ wheat with symptoms : skin rash/ itching/ rash/ hives/ swelling of lips, tongue, throat/ shortness of breath/ trouble in breathing/ whizzing/ stomach pain/ vomiting/ diarrhea. Sometimes, allergy symptoms are mild and in some other times, they are severe.
8.3.2) Non- Ig E (Immunoglobulin E)) mediated food allergic reaction
Most symptoms of non- Ig E (Immunoglobulin E)) involve the digestive tract that invite vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of non- Ig E may take longer time to develop and lasts longer than Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction system.
Sometimes, allergic reaction to food allergens occurs 3 days after taking the food. In such type of allergic reaction medication is not needed.. Usually, the best procedure to prevent and fight such type of allergic reaction is to avoid and stay away from the foods that cause allergic reaction.
8.4) Eight most common foods that trigger allergic reaction
8.4.1) Cow milk
An allergy to cow milk is the most common food allergy among the babies and the young children. About 2%- 3% babies and the toddlers are affected. However, about 90% among the children will outgrow the condition when they are 3 years or over. The cow milk allergy can occur in case of both Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction condition. And non- Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) mediated food allergic reaction condition. Reaction swoops on the children with Ig E allergy within 5- 30 minutes of ingesting cow milk. Symptoms experienced include swelling /rashes /hives/vomiting and in rare cases anaphylaxis (it is a serious life threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic allergic reactions occur in foods/ insect stings/ medications/ latex)
A non- Ig E medicated food allergic reaction usually has more gut based symptoms (like vomiting/ constipation/ diarrhea as well as inflammation of gut wall) and additionally ,it can be difficult to diagnose. Because, sometimes the symptoms can suggest an intolerance and there is no effective blood test for this.
Conclusively, cow milk allergy mostly affect the children under 3 years. Secondly, an accurate and effective diagnosis of cow milk allergy implies that the only option is to stay away from cow milk as well milk products (foods and drinks).
Egg allergy is the 2nd most common cause of allergy in children (followed by milk). However 68% among the children having egg allergy will outgrow the problem by the time they attain 16 years. Egg allergy symptoms include: digestive problem causing stomach ache/ skin reaction (hives or rash) / respiratory problem) /anaphylaxis (which is rare)
Conclusively, It is possible to be allergic to egg white (but not to egg yolk) in some cases. Again in some other cases, just the reverse may occur (one is allergic to egg yolk , but not to egg white). Because, protein content in egg yolk and egg white are different.
Secondly, most of the allergies produced by the eggs are on account of egg white. This is why the egg white allergy is found more common. Thirdly, like other allergies, the only treatment for egg allergy is to take egg free diets
8.4.3) Tree nut
Some of the nuts and seeds can cause tree nut allergy. The tree nuts include: Brazil nut/ Almonds/ cashews/ macadamia nuts/ pistachios/ pine nuts/ walnuts. So, patients with peanut allergy will also be allergic to tree nut products.
Caution: It is essential to avoid all types of tree nuts, even though only 1 or 2 types cause allergy. Because, unlike other allergies, a tree nut allergy is a lifelong condition and is responsible for more than 50% anaphylaxis deaths.
The patients always need to carry Epipen. It is a potentially a life saving device that allows those with tree nut allergies to inject themselves with a shot of adrenaline. Which is a naturally occurring hormone.
8.4.4) Pea nut
Like tree nut, pea nut allergy also can invite severe and fatal allergic reactions. The actual cause of pea nut allergy is still unknown. But the patients having family history of peanut allergy are at higher risk.
Diagnosis involves : recording the patient’s personal and family history/ skin prick test/ blood test/ identifying the food challenges. Emergency and effective treatments involve totally avoiding the pea nut as well as the pea nut products.
The allergic response occurs due to one of the proteins found in the wheat. It is most common among the children (below 10 years). Like other allergies symptoms include: digestive disorder/ vomiting/ hives/ rashes/ anaphylaxis in severe cases.
A wheat allergy is often diagnosed with skin prick testing. Totally avoiding the wheat products is the only treatment option.
Soy allergy affects about 0.4% among the children ( age below 3 years).The allergy is triggered by a protein in soybean. Symptoms Include: itchy tingly mouth/ runny nose/ rash/ asthma/ breathing difficulty/ anaphylaxis in rare cases.
Conclusively, among the babies who are allergic to cow milk, are also allergic to soy. Like other allergies, the best treatment option is the complete avoidance.
The allergy is caused by the body attacking proteins from the crustacean. And mollusk families of fish known as shellfish (examples are :shrimp/ prawn/ Cray fish/ lobster/ scallop). Allergy symptoms usually arrive quickly and are similar to other Ig E food allergies (like vomiting/ diarrhea/stomach ache)
Conclusively, the shellfish allergy symptoms does not resolve over time. So, most effective treatment is to exclude shellfish from the diet list. Surprisingly, even the vapors coming out from the cooking shellfish can trigger and aggravate the allergic reaction of those who have already allergy.
Fish allergy is found common among the 2% adults. Like a shellfish allergy, fish allergy can cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Major symptoms include: diarrhea/ vomiting/ anaphylaxis in rare cases.
Conclusively, since shellfish and fish with fins don’t carry the same protein, so patients who are allergic to shellfish, may not be allergic to fish.
9) Allergy tests
9.1) Why allergy test needed
The allergy tests are various exams performed by a trained allergy specialist to detect whether the body has an allergic reaction to known substance. These are skin test/ blood test/ elimination test. Most allergy tests are performed in the hospital.
9.2) How to get prepared for the allergy test
Everything should be disclosed to the allergist about the time when the allergy symptoms were experienced first. Because the symptoms usually disappear in the 1st 24 to 48 hours. So everything should be reported to the specialist well in time including the medicines, if taken and since when and how long. The medicines that need to be stopped 5 days before the test include: Alavert/ Allegra/ Cetrizine/ Claritin/ Clarinex/ Desloratadine/ Doxepin/ Fexofenadine. As regards the drug Antihistamine, it should be discontinued 3- 7 days before the test.
9.3) Types of allergy tests
9.3.1) Allergy skin test :
In general, allergy skin tests are reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances. Skin test may help diagnose food allergies.
Conclusively, since food allergies are complex, additional tests also may be needed.
9.3.2) Allergy blood test
Blood test measures the presence of Ig E (Immunoglobin E) antibody which is strongly linked to the body’s allergy response. Accepted normal range of Ig E is (150-300 ul /ml). Previously, the test was called RAST (Radio-allergo sorbent test) which uses radio activity. But modern test do not. RAST is a blood test to detect specific Ig E anybodies so as to determine the substance (causing the allergic reaction). On the other hand Allergy skin test determines the allergy (by the reaction of a person’s skin to different substances)
Allergy blood test detects and measures the amount of allergen specific antibodies in the blood. The anybodies control the cells in the body to release certain chemicals. These chemicals are those that cause allergy symptoms Conclusively,
- Accuracy of allergy skin test seldom invites false negative result (which implies erroneous result indicating that the “patient is not allergic to a food, even though he in fact is”)
- Positive test (i.e. the result shows how the patient is allergic to food) is not always accurate
- Blood tests are not often done as they are more expensive and less sensitive (as compared to skin test)
- Allergy skin tests are more reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances (such as pollen/ pet dander/ dust mites)
So, it is skin test which is the best test to diagnose food allergies.
- Immunotherapy : The allergist (the specialist) provides immunotherapy (it is a type of therapy that prevents or treats the disease with substance which stimulates the immune system) in the form of allergy shots/ oral tablets/ drops. These are considered disease modifying treatments. Veritably, they don’t cure allergies. But they can significantly reduce sensitivity to allergies and thus reduce allergy response.
- Antihistamine: The drug prevents symptoms (such as hives) by blocking histamine receptors so that the body does not react to allergens.
- Decongestants: The drug helps to clear the nose and is especially effective for seasonal allergies.
11) Allergy in animals
Exposure to animal dander (it is dead skin that is continually shed by the animals)/ animal urine/ saliva can cause human allergic reactions to animals. Examples of allergy symptoms include: itchy eyes/ runny nose/ rash. These symptoms may take a serious turn to asthma/ rhinitis/ eczema.
11.1) Cat allergy
Cat allergy in humans is an allergic reaction to one or more allergens produced by the cats. Symptoms include: coughing/ chest tightening/ wheezing/itching/nasal congestion/ rash/ watery eyes/chapped lips.
Treatment includes developing certain healthy habits in addition to medications.
- There is no treatment of allergic reactions to cat. Immunotherapy may help increase tolerance. It includes getting allergy shots once or twice weekly (up to 6 months). Then monthly boosters for 3- 5 years may be continued.
- Steam cleaners provides a chemical freeway of cleaning and killing dust mites/bacteria/cat allergens.
- Immediate wash after petting the cats is essential.
11.2) Dog allergy
Dogs produce a variety of proteins causing allergies. The highest concentration of proteins is in the dog’s saliva. When exposed to dog’s saliva, allergy to dogs occurs with symptoms that include: rash/ hives/ watery eyes. However, in many cases symptoms are mild. Veritably, dog dander (dog’s skin cell) in the air can linger for a long time and can stick to household items (such as furniture/ curtains/ bedding/ carpets). The best way to prevent and fight dog allergy is to avoid contact with dog. If it is not possible, then the following home remedies may be applied.
11.2.1) Home remedy to treat dog allergy
- Using a saline sinus rinse: Rinsing the nostrils using a mixture (components include; 3 teaspoonful iodine free salt/1 teaspoonful baking soda/ 8 ounce warm water) will be very effective and helpful. It needs to use a ear dropper to put the solution into the nostril.
- Plant supplement: Like all other living beings, plants also need nutrients/vitamins/ supplements to grow, live and survive. Taking certain plant supplements (such as, that containing rosmarinic acid) may reduce allergy symptoms according to a research study (2014)
- Cleaning more often the house (and its adjacent areas lying outside) during the winter season.
- Washing hands with soaps after petting the animal.
- Using a vacuum cleaner designed to trap and contain airborne allergies.
11.2.2) Medications to treat dog allergy
Treatment to cure dog allergy include
- Antihistamine: It is a type of medicine to treat common allergy symptoms.
- Nasal decongestants and nasal corticosteroids: These medications help reverse the inflammation caused by the immunes and relieve nasal congestion's
- Immunotherapy: An allergist may treat severe or chronic allergy symptoms using immunotherapy. It is also known as allergy shots.
- Other treatments: Many patients already suffering from asthma, can be exposed to pet allergens which will inevitably worsen the symptoms. Under the situation, the doctor may prescribe inhalable corticosteroids or bronchodilators that keeps the air passage open.
Conclusively, allergy in animals embraces a vast area of multiple issues. Animal allergy is confined not only to human allergic reaction to animals. There is also other side of the coin. Various allergy reactions (such as, food allergy/ flea allergy /dust mite allergy) also hit and harm the animals as well.
11.3) Food allergy in animals
The most common cause of food allergy in the dogs include: beef/ mutton/ wheat/ corn/ soy/ dairy products/eggs/chicken. Occasionally, chemicals (such as preservatives/ additives/ food dyes also play a key role.)
11.4) Flea allergy in animals
FAD (Flea Allergy Dermatis) is an eczematous itchy skin disease of dogs and cats. Affected animals develop allergic reactions to chemicals existing in the flea saliva. Symptoms Include: erythema (redness) /bumps/pustules (pus filled bumps)
11.5) Dust mite allergy in animals
Hypersensitivity to house dust mites is a common health problem for the dogs and cats. House dust mites are microscopic in size. They feed on animal (as well as human) dander skin scales and hair. It is often impossible to totally eliminate the mites from the environment (inside or outside the house) with a view to saving an allergic patient (man or animal)
12) Key global information
- Of all allergies, food allergy is most common . And milk allergy is the most common food allergy (followed by egg allergy). In fact, 5% among the children and 8% among the adults are affected by food allergies .And these percentages are rising globally.
- Among the children, milk allergy is the most common food allergy (followed by egg allergy).
- Egg white allergy is found more common as compared to egg yolk allergy.
- Most allergens (causing eye allergies) are airborne.
- Pea nut allergy affects around 4%-8% (among the children) and 1%- 2% (among the adults).
- More than 50 million people in USA have some form of allergy.
- In USA, nut allergy is very common and affects around 1% people.
13) Concluding remark
- Symptoms of allergies get worse at night. Because, during the day time pollen's are pushed into the air by warmer temperature. But they become strong and active at night. If one suffers from seasonal pollen allergy, this could be why one sneezes more at night.
- Patients who are more prone to asthma. May have more exacerbation's of asthma symptoms if the allergies are not treated well in time. In that case it may adversely affect the quality of life. Negligence delay in treatment of allergies can also trigger sinus and ear infections since mucus is a congenial breeding ground for virus and bacteria.
- A= ALLERGEN (is usually a harmless substance triggering allergic reaction)
- L= LOW (humidity is a treatment procedure to seasonal allergic attack)
- L= LASTS (throughout the seasons are eye allergies)
- E= EGG ( allergy is the 2nd most cause of food allergy after milk)
- R= Respiratory (problem and cardiac arrest are 2 rare, but serious allergic reactions )
- G= GENETIC (and environmental factors largely affect allergic reactions)
- Y= YOLK (of egg is usually less allergic than egg white)