Allergy is the state of suffering or pain caused due to the body being hypersensitive to something eaten or inhaled or applied over the body.
It comes about when the body being exposed to certain substance becomes sensitive to it and antibodies are formed against the offending substance or antigen.
On subsequent exposure, antibodies in the body (protective protein groups) combine with this antigen and produce reactions which cause suffering to the individual.
This allergy may be manifested in mild forms like sneezing, frequent cold, dry cough, mild itching with few eruptions or rashes on the skin. At times it may be more troublesome like severe attack of asthma, severe urticaria.
Anaphylaxis is a fatal form of hypersensitivity or allergic state.
Tendency for allergy to certain substances is usually hereditary. Diseases like bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis or cold commonly run in families.
But in some cases it may be induced by external causes, for example worm infestations in the body lead to skin rashes or dry cough.
An individual may have only one manifestation of allergy, like recurrent sneezing. But some unfortunate individuals may have multiple manifestations. They may have recurrent cold, cough, asthma and skin rashes also.
Life becomes miserable for such individuals, because they suffer much. Repeated cold, cough or skin troubles make them susceptible to secondary infections also making them sicker. Recurrent health related problems affect their work.
Allergic disorders can occur at any age in both genders. Allergy can occur to any substance under the sun including the sun itself.
I have seen patients having allergy to sunlight, where they develop blisters or rashes after exposure to sunlight.
Common offending substances in the environment are house dust, pollens and spores present in the atmosphere, droppings of insects and pests.
Many people have allergy to smoke, exhaust fumes from vehicles, pesticides, petroleum products. Some women have allergy to cosmetics like creams, lipsticks, perfumes.
Metal and plastic jewelry is also implicated in allergy. Toilet products, soaps, lotions, room and car fresheners e.t.c., also cause allergy in many people.
Drugs particularly pain killers and antibiotics produce allergy in patients consuming them.
Chemicals added as preservatives, flavoring agents additives in food substances cause allergies in some persons, whereas some individuals develop allergic reactions to naturally occurring food substances.
Protein rich foods like beans, groundnuts, milk and milk products are the common causative substances.
A sickness is diagnosed to be allergic in nature because of its repetitive nature, history of similar or related problems in other family members and demonstration of high eosinophil ( white blood cells signifying allergy)counts in the blood or sputum. Skin tests are a battery of tests which can help to identify the substance/substances causing allergy.
In this the potential allergen is injected subcutaneously and the reaction is watched after 24 to 48 hours. But these tests are expensive and cumbersome. Moreover the potential risk of inducing severe life threatening reactions exists with these tests.
Unfortunately after diagnosis there is no known absolute cure for allergic conditions. Anti allergic medicines provide only symptomatic relief and many of them cause much drowsiness.
Corticosteroids are also used to suppress allergic reactions but in long term have adverse effects which can make the person sicker.
Desensitisation is a process where small amounts of allergy producing substance is given regularly so that body gets familiar to it and reaction to it is stopped. But again it is expensive, cumbersome as well as risky.
An individual should learn to live with,” allergy”. He or she can judge very well by observation as to what substances are causing allergy. This applies to substances applied on body or eaten.
They can be very well avoided to avoid allergic problems. While travelling, cleaning or working with dust it is advisable to cover the nose to prevent inhalation of potential allergens.
As far as possible, one should use natural substances in place of chemicals as chances of allergy are more with chemicals.
Allergy though troublesome can be managed enough to keep oneself comfortable.