Understanding Allergy

Jun 30, 2009

What is allergy?

Allergy is an increased sensibility towards internal and external factors like food, pollen, plants, animals and other things. Though basically allergy is a physiological protective reaction of the body, it is most often associated with an abnormal response of the body towards harmless substances.

The allergic reaction leads to the development of the disease, which can manifest itself differently depending on the type of allergy.

Some people are allergic to flower pollen, others to animals, drugs or certain types of food. The substances which cause allergy are all called allergens.

Symptoms of Allergy

Allergy manifests itself in many different ways. It is often hard to make a difference between allergy and other diseases, but there are certain symptoms which can help the doctor to make the correct diagnosis.

These symptoms are:
  1. Symptoms related to the respiratory system, including nose, throat and the respiratory ways. When the allergen reaches the mucous membrane of the respiratory system it causes symptoms similar to common cold: itching in the nose, frequent sneezing, clear and liquid secretions from the nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, dry cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath. The main allergic diseases that may cause these symptoms are allergic rhinitis or hay fever and asthma.

  2. Symptoms of eye allergy. In this case, the unpleasant signs of allergy include the redness of the eyes, sudden or most often watery eyes, itching or eyelid swelling. If you have these symptoms, you are more likely to have allergic conjunctivitis.

  3. Symptoms of skin allergy, such as: redness and dryness, itching, increased sensitivity towards light and cold, rash, blisters all of them may be a sign of allergic dermatitis.

  4. Symptoms related to the digestive system: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipations, meteorism, pains and feelings of burning in the stomach or in the intestines. Such symptoms may appear as allergic reactions to food or medicines. If these symptoms are also associated with pain in the joints and in the muscles, it can be a sign of a systemic allergic response.

  5. Complications of allergy. Though allergy is usually not life-threatening, sometimes it can cause anaphylaxis a severe complication which may lead to death.