An allergy is an immunological response of your body when exposed to certain substances in the environment or the foods we eat, usually protein, collectively known as allergens.
Often with an allergic person, the first time he gets exposed to the allergen, the symptoms donít occur yet. Instead, what happens is that your immune system will mistakenly identify these allergens that are otherwise not harmful as potentially disease-causing substances. This signals the immunological defense system to produce antibodies that will bind with these allergens and destroy them. The antibodies produced are called IgE or immunoglobulin E.
The next time you are exposed to the allergen, your immune system will auto-react by mass producing IgE antibodies and signaling these to bind with the allergens. Once bound with the allergen, the antibodies are circulated around the body and encounter certain types of cells we have, called mast and basil cells. These cells contain chemical substances, such as histamine, that are key players in inflammation.
The IgE antibodies with allergens attached will bind with these mast and basil cells, altering its cell membranes, and thereby, causing the substances inside to leak out into surrounding tissue. The result is inflammation, one of the most common symptoms of allergy.
An allergy varies with each person affected. Some may have food allergies caused by substances in food that they eat, while others get allergic reactions from the air that they breathe. But no matter what type of allergy you may have, the reactions are often the same. Common symptoms of allergies include:
Itchy nose, eyes, and roof of mouth
Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
Pressure in the nose and cheeks
Ear fullness and popping
Dark circles under the eyes
Anaphylaxis and death (in extreme cases)
The best way to treat an allergy is strict avoidance. For instance, if you are allergic to wheat, you should cut out wheat foods and wheat-containing products from your diet and just take vitamin supplements to make up for those that you have lost as a result of your restricted diet. Or if youíre allergic to dust mites, then you ought to keep your house as clean and as dust-free as possible and use even air filters and purifiers just in case.
But often these things are easier said than done. So youíre allergic to cats but you like cats so you keep one anyway. Or you bought a product and you didnít check the label and in turns out it contains some ingredients that you are allergic to. So even with an avoidance method, you canít really help suffering the symptoms of an allergy. Thatís why allergy medicines are provided for you.
Antihistamines are allergy medicines that help reduce the sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness of allergies. These allergy medicines are more useful if you use them before youíre exposed to allergens.
Decongestants are also another type of allergy medicines that relieve stuffy nose. The effects of this allergy medicine are often temporary, but they are common and can be bought without prescription.
Cromolyn sodium is another allergy medicine. It is a nasal spray that helps prevent the bodyís reaction to allergens.
Nasal steroid sprays are allergy medicines that help reduce the reaction of nasal tissues to inhaled allergies.
Though not entirely allergy medicines, eye drops are good to have a round in case of itchiness of the eyes as a result of an allergic reaction.