Allergies are a peculiar condition, in that your body is responding to something that normally poses no actual threat, and causing an unpleasant reaction as a result. This happens in over 50 million people according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leading to reactions that can come from food, environmental substances, and even your pets.
Often, allergies can be managed with medication and some basic lifestyle changes such as avoiding the things that trigger your allergic reactions, keeping areas where allergens are present clean, and cleaning your pets. But some situations require medical help.
To determine when you should get help, let’s look at how allergies affect your body, some common symptoms, and when these reactions need help.
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense in stopping viruses, bacteria, and other substances from entering your body and doing harm. When it detects a foreign substance, antibodies attack it to expel it from your body.
With an allergic reaction, your immune system is abnormally reacting to substances that pose no danger to your body and treating it as a foreign invader. Your antibodies do their work, and in the process create a chemical called histamine which is why you get the symptoms you experience in allergic reactions.
The histamine that is created when your body overreacts to allergens causes a range of symptoms, such as watery or red eyes, itchiness, rash, hives (itchy warts), hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and runny nose.
These symptoms often affect specific areas of your body, like when you get an allergic reaction on your skin. Usually, wherever the allergen touches you is where a rash or hives are likely to break out.
Food allergies can have similar symptoms, but since food is consumed internally, you can also experience other symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, hoarse throat, and dizziness.
Often allergies cause mild reactions to allergens, but if your symptoms persist despite efforts to relieve them, you should get medical help. You should also seek help if your symptoms become more severe or chronic, or if your symptoms interfere with your daily activities and decrease your quality of life.
A dangerous severe reaction that definitely needs medical attention is anaphylaxis, which can result from food, insect bite, medication, or latex allergies. This severe response can lead to trouble breathing, tightness in your throat, low blood pressure, fainting, rapid heartbeat, and even cardiac arrest.
In some cases, you can suffer from a secondary reaction (biphasic reaction), which can take up to 12 hours to occur after your initial reaction.
Tracking down your allergic responses is key to managing your symptoms, and avoiding your triggers as much as possible can make a big difference, especially if your reactions are severe.
If you’re struggling with allergic reactions and need help, make an appointment with the team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care. Call our office today or book online anytime.