Nature has set up an immune system in living organisms that fight any of the foreign invaders attacking the body. However, there are some cases where this respective system overreacts to something it’s exposed to. In such a case, an individual develops an allergy. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses in Europe. Moreover, up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.
The most dangerous and extreme kind of allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. It causes swelling of lips and tongue, breathing problems, collapse, etc. Surprisingly, it is on the rise since the past couple of decades. The number of hospitalizations caused by anaphylaxis has increased six-fold and it is responsible for about 20 deaths a year in the UK.
Experts cannot pinpoint a specific element behind this rise of allergies or allergic reactions. However, they suggest that a combination of modern lifestyle factors may be the possible driving force behind the condition. These factors may include exposure or a lack of exposure to a diverse range of good and bad bugs.
What causes anaphylaxis to occur?
Some people develop anaphylaxis without any obvious cause. However, the possible causes behind it include nuts e.g. peanuts, shellfish, eggs, kiwi fruit, bee or wasp stings, and antibiotics or aspirin-containing medicines.
The symptoms of the condition are rapid and very dramatic including,
- Tongue and lip swelling
- Tummy pain
- Breathing problems
- Nettle rash
It is essential to get tested if you’ve ever had an anaphylactic reaction. The relevant tests would reveal the possible causes, so you can avoid the condition completely.
Do people grow out of allergies?
You can grow out of some allergies, even if they’re very serious. For example, young children develop egg allergy very commonly but can grow out of it with age. In addition, 80-90% of babies are allergic to non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk protein. However, they grow out of it by the time they’re 3 years old.
There are some promising studies that look at the carefully monitored treatment for stopping peanut allergy from reacting or even prevent high-risk children from developing peanut allergy in the first place.
Some allergies are less severe than anaphylaxis
There are some allergies that are less severe than anaphylaxis. These may include,
- Hay fever
- Contact dermatitis
- Food allergies
Hay fever is caused by pollen allergy. It isn’t life-threatening but can bring on an asthma attack. The possible symptoms of hay fever are an itchy nose, eyes and throat, sneezing and runny or blocked nose. Treatments range from antihistamine tablets to eye drops and steroid nasal sprays.
Contact dermatitis is a skin allergy to something you touch. Its common causes are
- Cosmetics including hair dyes
- Metal especially nickel or cobalt in jewelry
- Plants like daffodils, chrysanthemums, tulips, and sunflowers
- Preservatives in creams or ointments
The condition is characterized by red, sore and inflamed skin. Treatments range from unscented moisturizers and steroid creams to settle the symptoms.
Food allergies are more common in children. Some people have food intolerance rather than an allergy. This is important to note because food intolerances are never life-threatening. Food intolerance causes tummy pain, bloating, wind, feeling sick or diarrhea.
People often prefer making diet changes to treat food allergies. However, this can sometimes be bad for your health. An unbalanced diet can leave you short of vital vitamins and other nutrients. Thus, before making major changes one must see a general practitioner who may be able to refer you to a dietician.