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Your body’s immune system helps keep you healthy by producing disease-fighting antibodies. These antibodies can destroy harmful foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria that cause disease. But if you have an allergy, certain types of antibodies get over stimulated and your body reacts when it comes into contact with a normally harmless substance, such as the air we breathe, or the food we eat, or the things we touch - they can all trigger an allergic reaction.
The culprit is an over-reacting antibody called immunoglobulin E or IgE. Generally found in tiny amounts in the body, IgE is much more prevalent in people with allergies. The IgE antibody is the key that allows normally harmless pollen to attach to our nasal linings causing histamine and other mediators to be released resulting in allergy symptoms.
When we think of allergy we usually think of upper respiratory irritations such as sniffling, sneezing, an itchy runny nose and itchy watery eyes. However, allergies can have a more serious impact. Allergies can affect the skin (atopic dermatitis), the gastrointestinal tract and the lungs. When allergies affect our lungs in the same way they affect our nasal passages this is called allergic asthma. Allergic asthma can be potentially life threatening. If you or a loved one suspect allergies are affecting your life, talk with one of our allergists. They can determine the best diagnostic approach and treatment therapy.
Some diseases that affect the upper respiratory system are not allergy-related. The only way to be sure is to get tested. Even if it turn out that you don’t have an allergy, your doctor will have a valuable piece of evidence to help diagnose your condition accurately.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction and is a medical emergency. It requires immediate medical attention. It can result in difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and possibly death if not immediately treated.
Anaphylaxis occurs in some people when they are exposed to a substance (an allergen) to which they are allergic.
Anaphylaxis is caused the same way other allergies are. The body’s defense against countless substances, the immune system, overreacts to a substance generally considered harmless. To those with severe allergies, however, such substances can be dangerous.
A specific antibody called Immunoglobulin E or IgE is present in people who have allergies. When allergens first enter the body of a person predisposed to allergies, a series of reactions occur, and allergen-specific IgE antibodies are produced. They travel and attach themselves to the surface of cells called mast cells, where they wait for their particular allergen.
The next time that person comes into contact with the allergens he or she is sensitive to, the IgE captures them and initiates the release of chemical “mediators” from the mast cells. If anaphylaxis occurs, the reaction is severe and requires immediate medical treatment.
Various organ systems are affected by a “systemic reaction” also known as Anaphylaxis. Some systems affected are the skin, upper and lower respiratory tracts, cardiovascular system, eyes, uterus, and bladder. Some symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, hives, swelling of the tissues in the lips or joints, diarrhea, itchy skin, severe anxiety, headache, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Some of the most dangerous symptoms include low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, shock, and loss of consciousness.
If you or someone you know has experienced an anaphylaxis reaction it is very important that you make an appointment and speak with one of our allergists. They will obtain a detailed medical and allergic history and with your help choose the best diagnostic and treatment options.