| DoctorHelps | Allergy & Clinical Immunology
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system works overtime. For some people, certain substances do not agree with their body. The immune system then tries to get rid of these foreign substances from the body and in the process, the person has an allergic reaction. It could be a mild reaction or it could get severe. Some people may only react to one substance while others may react to many substances.
Major Symptoms of Allergies
The most common sign of an allergy is a runny nose along with watery eyes and itchy eyes. Usually the skin starts to itch and the person may also suffer from sneezing fits.
Different people show different symptoms when they react to allergens. For some, a rash or boils may appear on the skin. Hives are also common on the skin and these hives consist of a swollen area with a pale center. In some cases, fluids may leak from the blood vessels and cause a swelling under the skin, called Angioedema. This can lead to asthma or other breathing problems.
How to Diagnose and Treat an Allergy
An allergy is caused by an allergen. The first step is to identify this allergen. A lot of people are prone to allergies if someone else in their family also suffers from allergies. The doctor will usually ask you if anyone else in your family suffers from allergies. If you can identify the allergen that triggers their allergies, it may be easier to find the cause of your allergy.
One way to find the allergen is to figure out when the allergy comes up most often and how often it happens. For example, which season does it get the worst and does it come up only after you have consumed specific foods. Another way to find the allergen is to do a skin test. In this case, your skin is pricked with a needle. A diluted solution of different kinds extracts ranging from dust to drugs to food or pollen is then placed drop by drop on the skin. The skin will react and flare up if it is allergic to any of these substances. A person is usually told to stop all antihistamines for a specified period before the skin test is conducted.
The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to try and avoid the allergen. It is important to stay away from foods or environmental conditions that may trigger an allergy. This is especially important for pregnant women. Antihistamines are also commonly prescribed for allergic reactions. They do not prevent the production of the histamine in the body but they block the effects.