Simply put, an allergy is caused by the interaction between an agent within the external world and the antibodies that exist within the immune system. When antibodies are exposed to an agent; referred to as an allergen, the immune system releases compounds to deal with the introduction of these foreign bodies. For persons with allergic disorders, the body basically overreacts because it identifies the allergen as something harmful although it is not and an inappropriate reaction occurs. The symptoms of allergies are merely the reaction of this process. Allergies are extremely common in children with their severity ranging from mild to deadly.
Types of allergies
Types of allergies known range from those of the eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), the airways (asthma), the nose (allergic rhinitis), the gastrointestinal tract (food allergies), the skin (Atopic Dermatitis) to conditions in which the entire body is affected.
Many of persons with allergies suffer from airborne allergens, meaning things in the air around them. Pollen, grass and other vegetations, dust, pet dander, mold and even cockroaches are responsible for many of the symptoms exhibited in and around the home. Food items like soy, nuts, wheat, seafood and more commonly shellfish, eggs, cow’s milk and the protein found in cow’s milk that is added to other foods all fall under the most common food allergens although many others can cause allergic reactions. Drugs or medication, chemicals and animal stings, bites or skin residue are also common triggers
Developing Allergic Reactions
It is believed that a child has a 75 percent chance of developing an allergic disorder if both his or her parents suffer from allergies. Noted also is that a 25 to 50 percent drop in susceptibility occurs if only one parent has a negative reaction to an agent. While a child’s tendency to develop allergic disorders slumps to less that 10 percent with no parent having allergies. Despite the heightened possibility of developing allergies through hereditary, children do not necessarily exhibit the same symptoms or reactions that their parents do. Hence, a child may develop an eye allergy while one parent has a skin disorder and the other has allergic rhinitis.
Incidentally, some children end up having more adverse reactions than their parents. Some hereditary allergies disappear over time. Also, in children especially, some allergies may be outgrown with the body building up sensitivity to the allergen because of repeated contact, some are replaced by others and some may developed at different stages through-out life.
Types of Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions include but are not limited to eczema (skin), hives, wheezing, heavy breathing, tongue and throat swelling, swelling of the body and face, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, redness and swelling of skin, sneezing, headaches, pressure in the sinus cavity, upset stomach and shock-like reactions. Some of these are mild while some indicate severe reactions.
Since allergies are common, it is imperative that signs or symptoms are identified at the onset. Also, if possible, tests for allergies should be done to ascertain what the body considers allergens and steps taken to avoid these and other common agents.