Allergies are on the rise in America. An estimated 40 million to 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies. Some of the most common allergens out there are dust, pollen, and nuts. Allergies have been proven to be contributing factors to many health issues patients suffer from on a daily basis.
What Are Allergies?
An allergy is a heightened response from the immune system to a stimulant that is ordinarily harmless. Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance by producing antibodies. These antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection, even if it isn’t. The trigger signals your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals, causing a range of allergic signs and symptoms called allergic reactions.
Allergies are quite common, and for the most part, non-life threatening. However, allergies can be deadly if they are serious enough. If an allergy is bad enough, it can cause anaphylaxis, which can cause an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, and even death. If anaphylaxis occurs, an epinephrine injector can reduce the severity of the reaction.
What Causes Allergies?
It’s still quite unknown exactly what it is that causes some people and not others to develop allergies. There is no definitive way to completely avoid developing allergies, and people develop allergies well beyond childhood.
There is a connection between allergies and genetics. However, while allergies tend to run in the family, accurately predicting whether or not a child will inherit a parent’s food allergy or whether siblings will have a similar condition is downright impossible.
What To Do If You Think You Have An Allergy
If you believe you have an allergy and you are experiencing allergic reactions to a stimulus, the first step you can take is a self-diagnosis to narrow down the suspects behind you immune response. First, monitor the foods you are eating and track them in a food diary. Take note if on certain days, you feel better or worse depending on the food you ate.
If you have noticed a trend between eating certain foods and experiencing adverse reactions because of it, we recommend visiting an allergy specialist and having a test done. If you undergo an allergy test and find that the results suggest you do have an allergy, talk to a specialist about how to navigate your lifestyle moving forward.