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Where Do Allergies Come From

What Are The Types Of Allergies And How Are They Treated

Where does pollen come from?

You can be allergic to a wide variety of substances including pollen, animal dander, mold and dust mites.

Pollen

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic response to pollen. It causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of your nose and of the protective tissue of your eyes .

Symptoms include sneezing, congestion , and itchy, watery eyes, nose and mouth. Treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription oral antihistamines, anti-leukotrienes, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, and nasal cromolyn. In some people, allergic asthma symptoms can be caused by exposure to pollen.

Your symptoms can be reduced by avoiding pollen. Stay indoors when pollen counts are high, close your windows, and use air conditioning. Ask your healthcare provider about immunotherapy to treat pollen allergy.

Dust mites

Dust mites are tiny organisms that live in dust and in the fibers of household objects, such as pillows, mattresses, carpet, and upholstery. Dust mites grow in warm, humid areas.

The symptoms of dust mite allergy are similar to those of pollen allergy. To help manage dust mite allergies, try using dust mite encasements over pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Also, remove carpet, or vacuum frequently with a high-efficiency filter vacuum cleaner. Treatment may include medications to control your nasal/eye and chest symptoms. Immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with avoidance methods and medications.

Molds

Can Food Allergies Be Prevented

The short answer is: we don’t know.

Some research indicates that breastfeeding may play a big part in allergy development. A 2008 study in Pediatrics found that food allergies may be delayed or prevented in high-risk infants if they are breastfed for a minimum of four months. A 2013 study in Pediatrics supported previous research suggesting that feeding solid foods to babies younger than 17 weeks could promote the development of allergies and that breastfeeding for as long as possible may help to prevent food allergies.

It still isn’t entirely clear whether introducing allergens early on, be that in utero, through breast milk, or as part of a baby’s solid-food diet, is a benefit or a risk. For example, a 2010 study in The Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology found that early exposure to peanut allergens, whether in utero or through breast milk, seems to increase the risk for the baby developing peanut allergy. A previous study in 1987, however, found the opposite to be true, and a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that exposing young children who were at high risk of developing peanut allergies to foods containing peanuts actually reduced the incidence of peanut allergy to 3.2%, down from 17.2% in children who had not been exposed. A 2016 study in the same journal confirmed these results, which may be true for food other than peanuts, too.

So basically, we’ve still got a long way to go.

Finding Relief From Grass Allergies

May 23, 2022 7 min

A lush, green landscape may be lovely to look at, but if you suffer from grass allergies, it may be a sight youd rather avoid.

If you have seasonal allergies, such as to grass, you may have noticed that you dont necessarily have to come in direct contact with grass to struggle with those pesky allergy symptoms. Sometimes, simply inhaling the air outdoors as youre trying to enjoy your backyard or just driving by a freshly mown lawn can be enough to set off an allergic reaction.

Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • Sneezing
  • Hives or grass allergy rashes

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Where Do Allergies Come From

Since the beginning of the 1960s, people with allergies have dramatically increased. The World Health Organization currently considers allergies a threat to public health. Researchers have tried to explain this significant increase. Professionals have proposed several hypotheses, including the Hygiene Hypothesis and Old Friends hypothesis.

Naturally, we wonder where allergies come from. Why do two people exposed to the same allergen have different reactions? Why are more children experiencing allergies than ever before?

In this article, well explore why allergies develop and why theyre increasing.

Where Do Food Allergies Come From Three Theories Offer Clues

Where allergies don

In todays world, it seems as though everyone is allergic to something. While a bit of hay fever or a runny nose from spring pollen might be a nuisance, their threat does not hold a candle to that of food allergies, which in the absence of an epinephrine injection can be fatal. This phenomenon isnt uncommon, either. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that around 8 percent of children have some sort of food allergy. This statistic begs the question:

If such a significant portion of the population is impacted by food allergies, what did our ancestors do about it?

The prevalence of food allergies is not a novel concept. The ancient Roman poet Lucretius noted that what is food to one man is bitter poison to others. While it is likely that food allergies have been a phenomenon for centuries, they certainly havent prevailed in the numbers we see today. Experts have quarreled over the reason for this, but the general consensus seems to boil down to three main possibilities.

A third proposal researchers have offered for the allergy uptick links the modern western diet to lack of microbial diversity. High fat, high sugar diets can dramatically shift gut microbial community membership and function, stated an article in the journal Nutrients.

Could our poor diets be to blame for this new age of allergies?

Allergology International . DOI: 10.1016/j.alit.2016.08.001

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine DOI: 10.17226/23658

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Pediatricians Now Want Kids To Try Potential Allergens Asap

The old way of thinking was to prevent potentially deadly allergic reactions by avoiding triggering foods at a young age. But, five years ago, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases flipped the script, urging parents to cautiously feed their babies small doses of peanuts and other common allergens before they turn 6 months old, even if theyre already showing signs of immune sensitivities, such as eczema and other allergies. The hope is that this practice could help beat allergy development to the punch.

And it seems to be working. A study published in the January issue of the Lancet found that small doses of peanut flour mitigated severe symptoms in children aged 1 to 3 years with an existing peanut allergy, and induced remission of the allergy in 21% of kids.

Which Allergies Are Most Common

While weve talked about allergies to things like dander and pollen, these are not the most frequent adult-onset allergies. Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology or ACAAI and data published in 2017 from their Annual Scientific Meeting, the most frequent adult-onset allergies are those to food. In fact, food comprised nearly 50 percent of these allergies!

Which foods triggered the most allergies? Peanuts, shellfish, and tree nuts. The study discovered that Caucasian people were less likely to have peanut and shellfish allergies compared to Hispanic, Asian, and black people of adult age .

While, back in 2008, the rate of tree nut allergies among adults was only 0.5 percent, its jumped by 260 percent. As of 2017, when the study was published, that rate was now 1.8 percent.

In addition, in 2004, only 2.5 percent of adults were allergic to shellfish. Today, that number has seen a 44-percent spike, as 3.6 percent are affected by this seafood allergy in the United States alone.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology or AAAAI added that younger children aged one through three years old were also getting more food allergies. That said, they had fewer instances of shellfish allergies specifically.

See related: New Recommendations for Exposing Children to Peanuts

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Is It Really A Food Allergy

A differential diagnosis is the process of telling the difference between a food allergy, a food intolerance, and other illnesses. When you go to the doctor’s office and say, “I think I have a food allergy,” they have to consider a list of other things that could cause similar symptoms and be confused with a food allergy. These include:

  • Other diseases
  • Psychological triggers

Foods can get contaminated with bacteria and toxins. Tainted meat sometimes mimics a food allergy when it’s really a type of food poisoning.

Histamine can reach high levels in cheese, some wines, and in certain kinds of fish, especially tuna and mackerel, if it hasn’t been refrigerated properly. When you eat foods with a lot of histamine, you could have a reaction that looks like an allergic reaction. It’s called histamine toxicity.

Sulfites are made naturally during the fermentation of wine, and they’re added to other foods to enhance crispness or prevent mold growth. High concentrations of sulfites can pose problems for people with severe asthma. They give off a gas called sulfur dioxide, which the person breathes in while they’re eating the food. This irritates their lungs and can trigger an asthma attack. That’s why the FDA banned sulfites as spray-on preservatives for fresh fruits and vegetables. But sulfites are still used in some foods.

Yellow dye number 5 can cause hives, although that’s rare.

How Food Allergies Work

Allergy – Mechanism, Symptoms, Risk factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention, Animation

Food allergies involve two parts of your immune system. One is immunoglobulin E , a type of protein called an antibody that moves through the blood. The other is mast cells, which you have in all body tissues but especially in places like your nose, throat, lungs, skin, and digestive tract.

The first time you eat a food you’re allergic to, certain cells make a lot of IgE for the part of the food that triggers your allergy, called an allergen. The IgE gets released and attaches to the surface of mast cells. You won’t have a reaction yet, but now you’re set up for one.

The next time you eat that food, the allergen interacts with that IgE and triggers the mast cells to release chemicals such as histamine. Depending on the tissue they’re in, these chemicals will cause various symptoms. And since some food allergens aren’t broken down by the heat of cooking or by stomach acids or enzymes that digest food, they can cross into your bloodstream. From there, they can travel and cause allergic reactions throughout your body.

The digestion process affects the timing and the location. You may feel itching in your mouth. Then you may have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or belly pain. Food allergens in your blood can cause a drop in blood pressure. As they reach your skin, they can trigger hives or eczema. In the lungs, they may cause wheezing. All of this takes place within a few minutes to an hour.

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Who Is At Risk For Adult

Most people who are diagnosed with allergies as adults probably had an allergic episode earlier in life that they don’t remember. Often allergies follow a predictable course: eczema and food allergies in babies and toddlers, then hay fever symptoms in mid-to-late childhood. Allergy symptoms may fade during the teen years, only to return when you’re an adult.

Some people, however, do experience allergy symptoms for the first time in adulthood. This most often happens in your twenties, thirties, and forties rather than in later years. “As we age, our immune system does weaken that is why more seniors get pneumonia than 20-year-olds,” says Anthony J. Weido, MD, president of Allergy & Asthma Associates in Houston, Texas, and the Gulf Coast area. “As the immune system weakens, the hyper-allergic reaction also weakens,” he says.

Any type of allergy can occur in adulthood, including hay fever, pet allergies, and dust mite and mold allergies as well as insect bite, drug, and food allergies. Again, experts aren’t entirely sure why this happens, but theories include:

  • being exposed to allergens when the immune system is weakened, such as during an illness or pregnancy
  • not being exposed to a high enough level of the allergen as a child but reaching that threshold in adulthood
  • moving to a new location with different trees, plants, and grasses
  • getting a pet

How To Manage An Allergy

In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.

For example, if you have a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.

There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:

  • antihistamines these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
  • tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
  • lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
  • steroid medicines sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can help reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction

For some people with very severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.

This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.

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What You Need To Know

  • Allergies are the result of your immune systems response to a substance.
  • Immune responses can be mild, from coughing and a runny nose, to a life-threatening reaction know as anaphylaxis.
  • A person becomes allergic when their body develops antigens against a substance. Upon repeated exposure the severity of the reaction may increase.
  • Allergies affect people of all ages, races, genders and socioeconomic statuses.

Allergic disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. People with a family history of allergies have an increase risk of developing allergic disease. Hay fever , eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy are some types of allergic diseases. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction .

Allergic reactions begin in your immune system. When a harmless substance such as dust, mold, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may over react by producing antibodies that “attack” the allergen. The can cause wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, and other symptoms.

Cross Reactivity And Oral Allergy Syndrome

Where Does All My Snot Come From?

When you have a life-threatening allergic reaction to a certain food, your doctor will probably recommend that you avoid similar foods, too. For example, if you react to shrimp, you’re probably allergic to other shellfish like crab, lobster, and crayfish. This is called cross-reactivity.

Another example of cross-reactivity is oral allergy syndrome. It happens in people who are highly sensitive to ragweed. During ragweed season, when they try to eat melons, especially cantaloupe, their mouths may itch. Similarly, people who have severe birch pollen allergy may also react to apple peels.

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What Is The Immune System

The purpose of the immune system is to defend itself and keep microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that do invade the body. The immune system is made up of a complex and vital network of cells and organs that protect the body from infection.

The organs involved with the immune system are called the lymphoid organs. They affect growth, development, and the release of lymphocytes . The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are important parts of the lymphoid organs. They carry the lymphocytes to and from different areas in the body. Each lymphoid organ plays a role in the production and activation of lymphocytes.

Lymphoid organs include:

  • Adenoids

  • Appendix

  • Blood vessels

  • Bone marrow

  • Lymph nodes

  • Lymphatic vessels

  • Peyer’s patches

  • Spleen

  • Thymus

  • Tonsils

The Most Common Symptoms Of Allergies

Allergies can be either seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergies are caused by seasonal allergens such as pollen may only occur or worsen during specific times of the year such as spring when flowers bloom. Perennial allergies on the other hand may occur all year round since their allergens do not depend on season factors.

Allergies usually manifest themselves close to the point at which the allergy comes into contact with the body. If the allergen happens to have been a substance that entered the body by breathing, then the allergic reaction will most likely manifest itself around the nose, eyes and even lungs. If the allergen happens to have been something that was ingested or swallowed, then the reaction is mostly likely to occur in the mouth stomach or even intestine.

The body takes time to develop an allergy to a particular allergen. Usually when a person who has an allergy encounters an allergen, the reaction does not occur immediately, the bodys immune system progressively increases its sensitivity to the allergen before it finally overreacts to it.

As the immune system progressively increases its sensitivity to the allergen, it tries to recognize and remember it, and then it creates antibodies to attack it. This process which may last anywhere between a few days to a few years and is known as sensitization. In most cases, sensitization may not be completed and one may experience a few symptoms but not a full-blown allergic reaction.

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What Is A Pollen Allergy

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies. Many people know pollen allergy as hay fever. Experts usually refer to pollen allergy as seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Each spring, summer and fall, plants release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. Most of the pollens that cause allergic reactions come from trees, weeds and grasses. These plants make small, light and dry pollen grains that travel by the wind.

Grasses are the most common cause of allergy. Ragweed is a main cause of weed allergies. Other common sources of weed pollen include sagebrush, pigweed, lambs quarters and tumbleweed. Certain species of trees, including birch, cedar and oak, also produce highly allergenic pollen.

Plants fertilized by insects, like roses and some flowering trees, like cherry and pear trees, usually do not cause allergic rhinitis.

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