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ALL ABOUT ALLERGIES

  By Elizabeth M.

Recently, I had an allergic reaction and the experience made me want to learn more about allergies and answer all the questions I asked myself. Why do some of us have allergies and others don’t? What is the science behind them? And what are allergy tests? 

Allergies or allergic rhinitis, affect 10%-30% of people worldwide (Allergy Statistics | AAAAI. (n.d.). American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.). Although some of us have more serious reactions that require medical assistance and the use of EpiPens to stay alive, others have non-life-threatening consequences. Allergies are your body's reaction to a substance it labels as “foreign” ; it causes your immune system to generate antibodies that then, wrongfully, identify the substance as harmful. Some people experience anaphylaxis- when your body goes into shock and the person can experience a loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, breathing problems, extreme rash, weak pulse, nausea, etc. (Allergies - Symptoms and causes. (2020, August 4). Mayo Clinic.) In theory, allergens can be anything, for example, a very unique case is the one of Savannah Fulkerson (Growing Up ‘Allergic to the Sun.’ (2016, February 19). Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. ). At the age of four, she started experiencing severe itchiness and burn-like pain after spending time outdoors and it was determined that she was allergic to the sun rays (Growing Up ‘Allergic to the Sun.’ (2016, February 19). Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. ). Some of the more common allergies include pollen, nuts, fruits, eggs, insect stings, medicines, latex and mold (NHS. (2021a, November 18). Allergies. Nhs.Uk. ). 


Why Do Some of Us Have Allergies?

Certain people are more likely to be affected with allergic rhinitis if they have a history of asthma or other known allergies. Asthma and allergies go hand-in-hand as they are triggered by the same substances which is why asthma is a risk factor for allergies and vice versa (Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, May 14). Allergies and asthma: They often occur together. Mayo Clinic. ). Children are also more at risk of allergies. Even though most children end up outgrowing their allergies by adulthood, it still is unknown why they are more common in children. Some theories are based around the fact that most babies don’t have a variety in their diet and so their body identifies some foods as imposters (Sheth, V. R. [Ms. Vandana R. Sheth]. Why are food allergies more common in children than adults? | Food Allergies & Food Intolerance [Answer]. Sharecare.). Another explanation can be that several children are growing up in “really clean” environments and causing there not to be enough encounterments with bacteria for the proper development of the microbiota and resulting in the development of allergies (Sheth, V. R. [Ms. Vandana R. Sheth]. Why are food allergies more common in children than adults? | Food Allergies & Food Intolerance [Answer]. Sharecare.). Allergies depend on many factors and are impossible to predict, to identify them an allergy test is used.


Allergy Tests

An allergy test generally takes three forms: a skin test, blood test, and an elimination diet. It is performed by an allergy specialist to identify your allergies or their absence. (Krans, B. (2019, January 30). Allergy Testing. Healthline. ) During a skin test the allergen, usually in liquid form, is placed on your skin. The tool used will slightly puncture your skin to allow the substance to absorb. After that, the area on the skin will be observed for a reaction. (Krans, B. (2019, January 30). Allergy Testing. Healthline. ) A blood test is used when your doctor predicts that you have a more serious allergy. This will require a sample of your blood which will be examined in a laboratory for specific antibodies that are used to attack precise allergens. (Krans, B. (2019, January 30). Allergy Testing. Healthline. ) An elimination diet implies the exclusion of certain foods from your meals and then adding them back to check if you are allergic to the food. (Krans, B. (2019, January 30). Allergy Testing. Healthline. ) 


Conclusion

Despite there being no cure for allergies, learning how to treat them correctly is an important step to accepting them. Allergies, at their core, is your body trying to protect you. So sometimes when not being able to enjoy certain meals or the spring season feels like missing out, remember, preserving your health is far more important. 




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