Allergy alert
Nathan Cabello (Banat) - December 5, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Perhaps everybody knows about or has experienced an allergy at one time or another. Different people have allergic reactions to different things. Some allergy symptoms get better or even go away on their own after a while.  Others are "chronic," which means these stay for the long run.

Some people may have been allergic to something in their childhood, but have since outgrown it and are no longer allergic to the same things as grownups. Or, their allergy symptoms lighten up with age. It may be because the immune system has strengthened with age, and ‘smart’ enough to deal with those early allergens.

Among adults, however, an allergy doesn't usually go away on its own. With some people, allergies can even worsen over time, especially allergies to foods, latex, or bee stings. In many cases more serious reactions are experienced with each exposure.

Sometimes the season brings on allergies, the pollen season, for example. Another example is the time after crop harvest, when dry hay begins to decompose into dust-like particles. Even a new job in a moldy building can cause allergies to flare up.

A person can have an allergy - or a second one or a third or fourth, where the symptoms are often worse. Having one allergy makes one more likely to get other allergies. Allergies can interact in unexpected ways.

People who are allergic to pollens also have allergies to foods that have similar proteins in them, like certain vegetables and fruits. Doctors call this "oral allergy syndrome." A person could have more severe allergic reactions when exposed to both at once.

Often, the pollen in the air, the hairs of pets or dust etc. are automatically blamed for the occurrence of allergy symptoms. But the website www.webmd.com says that most of those things are actually harmless. The website explains that what really causes allergic reactions is the person's immune system, which mistakes innocent things in the surroundings for a serious threat and attacks them - the allergy symptoms one gets are the result.

Also, the website continues, a person's odds of developing an allergy start in his genes. While specific allergies are not inherited, a tendency toward having allergies can be passed on from parents to children. The website cites that children with one allergic parent have a 33 percent chance of developing allergies. With two allergic parents, the chance rises to 70 percent - although it still takes the right circumstances for something to trigger an allergic reaction.

The state of the person's health is also a factor. According to the www.webmd.com website, if a person comes in contact with an allergen when he is weak, such as after a viral infection - he might be more likely to develop an allergy to it.

Allergy symptoms depend on the substance involved and can affect the airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, allergies can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis, a medical emergency that can cause the patient to go into shock. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include loss of consciousness, a drop in blood pressure, severe shortness of breath, skin rash, lightheadedness, rapid and weak pulse, nausea and vomiting.

Allergic rhinitis may cause sneezing; itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth; runny, stuffy nose; watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis). A food allergy may cause tingling mouth; swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat; hives, and anaphylaxis. An insect sting allergy may cause a large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site, itching or hives all over the body; cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath as well as anaphylaxis.

A drug allergy may cause hives, itchy skin, rash, facial swelling, wheezing and anaphylaxis. Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition also called eczema, may cause skin to itch, redden, flake or peel, and, again, there's the risk of anaphylaxis.

The website www.aafa.org suggests an allergy management plan for preventing allergic reactions and controlling allergies. Aside from working closely with one's doctor, the suggested plan entails that the person should avoid his known allergens; take his medicines as prescribed by his doctor; if at risk for anaphylaxis, to keep his epinephrine auto-injectors handy at all times; keep a diary to track what he does, what he eats, when symptoms occur and what seems to help.

The www.aafa.org website also recommends that the person wears a medical alert bracelet or necklace to alert others, if he has a serious allergy. It can be critical when he has an allergic reaction and are unable to communicate. Better yet, the person shall have a written anaphylaxis emergency action to remind him and tell others what to do in case of a severe allergic reaction. (FREEMAN)

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