Allergies are very common; most people will have a reaction to something. In most cases an allergy is simply an irritant, unpleasant but not dangerous. There are some cases though where an allergy can be a serious health risk. Every year there is significant number of people killed by allergic reactions. If you have a severe reaction to an allergy it is important that you know how to deal with it.
There are number of different types of allergies out there but they do have a lot in common. In almost all cases they are caused by a reaction of your immune system to a chemical within the allergen. There does seem to be a great deal of cross reactivity when it comes to allergies. People who have one allergy are likely to have other allergies. There are some people who are more likely to suffer from allergies than others; by far the most likely to have allergies are people with asthma. There is a clear link between asthma and allergies. The other group likely to have allergies is children; however they often outgrow their allergy.
The symptoms of an allergy can vary dramatically from person to person but are remarkably similar from one allergen to another. Depending on how severe your allergy exposure may result in nothing more than a runny nose and itchy eyes. A rash is also a common symptom. More serious are the people who have difficulty breathing when they have a reaction, this is very common with people who have asthma. The most serious issue is anaphylaxis, although rare this is a very serious reaction that requires immediate medical care, many people die as the result of anaphylaxis due to allergies each year.
In most cases the treatment for allergies is to avoid the allergen. In some cases this can be quite easy but in others it can be a real problem. This is especially the case with food allergies. Things like milk and peanuts are common allergies and unfortunately they are widely used in a number of food products. In many cases it can be very difficult to determine whether a particular food is safe to eat. Improvements in labeling laws have helped the situation but there are still issues, especially when eating out.
The other main way that allergies are dealt with is with medication. In most cases an anti-histamine can relieve the symptoms of an allergy. It is becoming increasingly common for people with allergies to try immunotherapy; this would be an allergy shot. Actually it is a number of allergy shots where you will be exposed to small amounts of the allergen so that you can build up your immune system. If you are one of those people who are prone to anaphylaxis you are going to need to carry an EpiPen with you. This is an emergency shot of epinephrine that you can use if you have a reaction.
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