Allergies are among the most frequent chronic health conditions worldwide. They are particularly prevalent in those with a family history of allergies. Food allergies, eczema, hay fever, asthma, and hives are all conditions that can be caused by, or aggravated by, allergies. Allergy symptoms can present as mild, such as sneezing as itching, or serious such as hives, weeping, and blisters. They can even be life-threatening, a reaction known as anaphylaxis. These reactions are grounded in a malfunction of your immune system.
Allergies, Hypersensitivity, and Your Immune System
Our immune system developed to protect the body from microorganisms that can cause us harm. This includes certain fungi, viruses, and bacteria from outside the body, known as a foreign body. This complex system normally does an outstanding job of keeping us healthy. However, when it malfunctions, serious problems can occur. Allergic reactions occur when a normally harmless substance such as pollen, dust, or mold comes in contact with an allergic individual. The immune system then responds as if it’s a dangerous foreign body, producing the above symptoms.
Our immune system is centered in a special set of organs known as lymphoid organs. These are involved with the development, growth, and release of lymphocytes, or white blood cell. These are essential parts of your immune system and help protect your body against disease and other invaders. There are multiple organs in the lymphatic system, including:
- Adenoids – These two glands are situated at the back of the nasal passages
- Appendix – This small tube connects to our large interesting
- Blood vessels – Capillaries, veins, and arteries that carry blood
- Bone Marrow – A fatty tissue found inside our bones that produces blood
- Lymph Nodes – Bean-shaped organs located throughout the body.
- Lymphatic Vessels – A network throughout the body consisting of channels that transport lymphocytes to where they’re needed.
- Peyer’s Patches – Small patches of lymphoid tissue in the small intestine
- Spleen – Found in the abdominal cavity, this organ is the size of a fist
- Thymus – Behind the breastbone in front of the trachea can be found these two joined lobes
- Tonsils – Found at the back of the throat
Every allergy sufferer experiences them differently, including what causes a reaction. Allergens can be consumed, inhaled, or even just touch the skin. Asthma, hay fever, and hives are specifically tied to an antibody known as immunoglobulin E or IgE. These antibodies can be quite specific, only reacting to certain types of allergens.
What is anaphylactic shock?
When an allergic reaction is severe to the point of being life-threatening, it is known as anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock. There are numerous symptoms that can result, including swelling of the throat that can block the airway. Some patients will also experience a sudden drop in blood pressure. Some other symptoms of allergies include:
- Itching and hives
- Feeling warm
- Swelling of the throat, tongue, or throat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or cramps
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Loss of consciousness
- Feeling light-headed
- Abnormal heart rate
If you’re concerned that you may be affected by severe allergies, reach out to your health specialist today.