What makes us allergic? Symptoms, Causes & 3 ways to diagnose it

What makes us allergic

Fresh air, good food what better ingredients for a happy life? But what happens when your body start over reacting to what you are eating or inhaling and your basic functions like breathing start to shutdown?

What makes us allergic?

Most of the products that we use in our day to day life which claims to be antibacterial and kills 99.9% germs, the problem is that they kill all the jerms indiscriminately and studies have shown that there are some good bacteria(probiotics) which helps in building our immunity.
So, is our obsession with cleanliness driving the massive increase in allergens especially in developed countries like Australia?

What makes us allergic
What makes us allergic

Research suggests that having pet around our kids in the first year of life, while their immune system is developing can be helpful in reducing the Infant alleges. Study done on 10,000 adults from 14 countries found that people who lived on farms from the birth to Age 5 are 54% less likely to develop as the mother of hay fever as adults do the reason is yet unclear, some researchers believe a key reason could be the bacteria found on farms the basic hygiene must be maintained to avoid infection from harmful bacteria.

Hence people living in urban areas are encourage to let their children play in parks and out doors as often as possible.

Australia has the highest number of reported food allergies in the world. Food allergies causes potentially deadly anaphylaxis have doubled in Australia over the last decade and the group most affected is also the most vulnerable i.e. Children. 1 in 10 children in Australia will develop food allergy, though the good news is most of them outgrow allergens by 18 years of age.
Allergic reactions occur when our immune system over react to something that that is generally harmless to most people like plant, pollen, dust, insect bites, mould, our pets, or a variety of food types like peanuts, eggs, fish, milk, etc.

Whatever the allergy and when eaten, inhaled, injected or touched, the substance that triggers the reaction is called as an Allergen.

As soon as Allergen enters our body, our immune system targets it as dangerous and releases antibodies and Chemicals to defend itself, one amongst them being the Histamine and it can cause sneezing, wheezing, running nose, weepy eyes, itchy eyes diarrhoea, headache, nausea, abdominal pain and low blood pressure, the worst possible reaction known as anaphylaxis is life threatening.
Did you know certain protein in food are similar to the parts of Pollen that triggers allergies?
Hence if you are allergic to grasses, you are more likely to get an itchy tingling sensation in the mouth and throat after eating cucumber, melon, oranges and tomatoes. So what can you do if you think you have a food allergy?

Consult a Doctor Who will most probably do these tests to find out the exact allergen you are allergic to.

Skin Prick Test/Puncture/Scratch Test

Skin Prick Test/Puncture/Scratch Test

It hecks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 50 different substances at once. In adults, the test is usually done on the forearm. Children may be tested on the upper back.

Allergy skin tests aren’t painful. This type of testing uses needles (lancets) that barely penetrate the skin’s surface. You won’t bleed, it literally feels just like a prick.

After cleaning the test site with alcohol, the nurse draws small marks on your skin and applies a drop of allergen extract next to each mark & then uses a lancet to prick the extracts into the skin’s surface. A new lancet is used for each allergen.

To see if your skin is reacting normally, two additional substances are scratched into your skin’s surface:

Glycerin or saline. In most people, these substances don’t cause any reaction. If you do react to glycerin or saline, you may have sensitive skin. Test results will need to be interpreted cautiously to avoid a false allergy diagnosis.

Histamine. In most people, this substance causes a skin response. If you don’t react to histamine, your allergy skin test may not reveal an allergy even if you have one.

About 15 minutes after the skin pricks,the site is observed.If you are allergic to one of the substances tested, you’ll develop a raised, red, itchy bump (wheal) that may look like a mosquito bite, it’s size is noted and your skin is cleaned with alcohol to remove the marks.

Skin injection test

Skin Injection Test

You may need a test that uses a needle to inject a small amount of allergen extract just into the skin on your arm (intradermal test). The injection site is examined after about 15 minutes for signs of an allergic reaction. Your doctor may recommend this test to check for an allergy to insect venom or penicillin.

A positive skin test means that you may be allergic to a particular substance. Bigger wheals usually indicate a greater degree of sensitivity. A negative skin test means that you probably aren’t allergic to a particular allergen.

Patch test

Patch Test

Patch testing is generally done to see whether a particular substance is causing allergic skin inflammation (contact dermatitis). Patch tests can detect delayed allergic reactions, which can take several days to develop.
Patch tests don’t use needles. Instead, allergens are applied to patches, which are then placed on your skin. During a patch test, your skin may be exposed to 20 to 30 extracts of substances that can cause contact dermatitis. These can include latex, medications, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, metals and resins.

You wear the patches on your arm or back for 48 hours. During this time, you should avoid bathing and activities that cause heavy sweating. The patches are removed when you return to your doctor’s office. Irritated skin at the patch site may indicate an allergy.

Finding a Cure

Peanuts are the most common cause of death due to food allergy in Australia. A study was conducted, 62 children with peanut allergy participated in a trial where they were given peanut combined with probiotics (good bacteria) in order to trick our immune system and it actually worked since the body thought the peanut which was incorporated with probiotics as a self and not dangerous hence didn’t attack.

Result: 80% children who received active probiotics peanut treatment were able to eat peanut afterwards. Still, there is lot more clinical study that needs to be done to find a Cure, we hope scientists find a cure for these allegies soon.

Though the temporary way is to avoid the allergen as fast as possible. Stay Safe,
Stay Healthy!

Author: Dr. Rabia
Dr Rabia Akhtar, MBBS(Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), has perceived her graduation from India. Special Interest: Surgery, Chronic disease, Emergency Medicine, Paediatrics, Women's Health.
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