A complex network of cells and organs constitutes your immune system. The immune system protects you from infection caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxic microorganisms or pathogens. As soon as your immune system identifies a pathogen, it triggers a response to destroy it.
However, the immune system may sometimes overreact by acting strongly on something that isn't harmful. For instance, your immune can misinterpret something non-infectious, like pollen as a pathogen. Assuming that you are exposed to a threat, it may overreact and trigger an immune system attack that your body did not need in the first place.
Some other substances that your immune system may consider harmful include some medications, dust mites, specific foods, and insect venoms, all of which are allergens. When the immune system overreacts, it produces antibodies to attack the allergen, which can cause itching, wheezing, watery eyes, or other related symptoms.
This article presents a detailed insight into how an allergy starts, the common symptoms of allergy, ways to tackle allergy, and the role of nutritional supplements in overcoming allergies.
Allergies and Immune System – How Does an Allergy Start?
Around one-third of people experience allergies at some point in their lives. While some allergies run in families, they can only be triggered when exposed to an allergen. The moment an allergen enters your body, your immune system presents it as a pathogen to other immune cells, which then produce antibodies to destroy it.
A type of immune cell, B-lymphocytes or white blood cells, produces an antibody known as immunoglobin E (IgE) targeting that specific allergen. The white blood cells release the IgE antibodies into your bloodstream. When you are exposed to the same allergen again, it causes an allergic reaction.
However, the symptoms and impact of the allergic reaction depend on the type of allergen you are exposed to. It also depends on how your immune system reacts to that allergen.
Allergies can affect you regardless of your gender and age. Various factors like stress level, environment, or hormones may play a crucial role in deciding the severity of allergies.
What Are Common Allergy Symptoms?
You could develop symptoms that impact your skin, gastrointestinal system, airways, and nasal passages if you have an allergy. Some of the common allergic symptoms are:
When you have asthma, your airways usually become narrower and swollen, resulting in breathing difficulties. Exposure to common triggers like cigarette smoke or pollution can cause inflammation and trigger asthma symptoms.
The common allergens triggering asthma symptoms include pollen, animal fur, and dust mites. Asthma can result in coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, etc. Some people experiencing asthma symptoms may also experience another allergy symptom, allergic rhinitis.
When an allergen comes into contact with your skin, it could trigger eczema. The common allergens causing eczema include perfumes, soaps, and detergents. Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema.
According to research, dietary factors may also trigger atopic dermatitis, causing eczema. Most people with atopic eczema may also develop other allergies, such as asthma.
Eczema can cause dry, cracked, and sore skin. While some people only face issues in the limited skin area, others experiencing severe eczema may develop inflamed skin overall.
3. Allergic Rhinitis
The common type of allergic rhinitis, also known as seasonal type or hay fever, causes your immune system to react to pollen released by plants, weeds, etc. Most people affected with seasonal allergic rhinitis experience symptoms, especially during the spring and summer months.
The other type, perennial allergic rhinitis, is caused by dust mites, mould, and pet dander. During perennial allergic rhinitis, the common symptoms that you may experience include sneezing and an itchy and stuffy nose.
The cold-like symptoms are also common during seasonal allergic rhinitis. These symptoms are primarily triggered when the immune system chemicals are released inside your nose layer or mucous membrane, resulting in your nasal passages become swollen.
Urticaria, also known as hives, is another allergy particularly affecting your skin. However, in this case, the allergy is usually triggered due to a specific food or medicine. Other substances such as insect bites, stings, dust, and pollen may also trigger Urticaria.
Urticaria can cause red, itchy, and raised skin patches. You may also experience burning rash when suffering from Urticaria. While you may experience Urticaria for long, it usually dies down more quickly, even within few hours, as opposed to other allergic symptoms.
5. Allergic Conjunctivitis
When your eyes come into contact with allergens like dust mites, pollen, or toxic chemicals in make-up, eye drops, or other cosmetic items, it can trigger allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis can cause puffy, watery, and itchy eyes.
It is the most severe reaction caused by allergens such as foods, medicines, stings, or insect bites. When anaphylaxis is triggered, the symptoms usually start quickly and get worse gradually. These symptoms include rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, anxiety, lightheadedness, or even losing consciousness.
Sometimes anaphylaxis may also trigger other allergic symptoms like Urticaria. As these symptoms can be life-threatening, anaphylaxis is often considered a serious medical emergency.
As allergies can impact people in different ways, it is important to tackle them before they worsen. The next section highlights some ways to tackle allergies.
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Building Immunity to Allergies
Some of the things that you could do to tackle allergy includes:
1. Eat Healthily
To protect your body from infections and diseases, you must take a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet. Make sure to include adequate fruits and vegetables in your diet to meet your body’s nutritional requirements.
Moreover, specific foods like fatty fish, broccoli, flaxseeds, oranges, and strawberries may help minimize allergy symptoms. Remember that a healthy body can help you fight against viruses, bacteria, and other harmful toxins.
2. Ensure a Proper Sleep
If you have a habit of staying up late, it is time to change your routine. A proper and sound sleep supports your immune system to function appropriately. Aim for at least six to eight hours of sleep to ensure a healthy immune system.
3. Manage Stress
According to experts, stress can worsen your allergy symptoms; therefore, managing stress remains crucial to overcoming allergy symptoms and strengthening your immune system.
If you are constantly under stress or anxiety, try incorporating some relaxing and refreshing activities into your routine. Practicing meditation and deep breathing can also help minimize your stress levels.
Immunotherapy can help improve the way your immune system reacts to allergens like pollen and ragweed. It involves injections that contain substances that cause allergy. The amount of these substances are gradually increased to desensitize your immune system to the allergens.
While immunotherapy is usually effective, it should only be done if you have allergies that cannot be controlled by medications or lifestyle modification.
5. Avoid Allergens
The best way to avoid the discomfort caused by allergy is to avoid or limit the exposure to the allergens triggering an allergic response. For instance, in the case of hay fever, you may spend time indoors to avoid pollen.
If you are triggered by an allergen present indoors, like dust mites, using a freestanding filter or anti-allergic bedding may help.
Certain medications can help overcome allergy symptoms. Some medications may also help manage the stress that worsens your allergy or negatively affect your immune system.
Exercising is important to withstand the impact of allergies. It affects your body positively by helping you manage your weight. On the other hand, if you are overweight, you may struggle to breathe due to allergy symptoms like asthma.
In addition to the tips discussed in this section, nutritional supplements can also help you deal with allergy as discussed in the next section.
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The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Handling Allergy
Some supplements can play an essential role in improving your immune system, for instance, probiotics. Probiotics are essential living microorganisms that can be consumed in supplement or fermented food form.
Reliable probiotic supplements, such as DMoose probiotic, containing 50 billion CFU (colony-forming units) probiotics with prebiotic fiber and 13 strains, can help balance the bacteria in your digestive system. A healthy digestive system is linked to improved health.
The probiotic pills can also help maintain gut bacteria, responsible for preventing diseases. The good bacteria in the gut improve your immunity to other infections and toxins. Natural probiotics can improve the efficiency of your immune system and reduce inflammation. It also helps overcome allergies by maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body.
In addition, the good bacteria managed by the probiotic capsule prevent the bad bacteria from growing; therefore, it plays a significant role in preventing severe diseases, like Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
The probiotic capsules, if consumed regularly, can also prevent serious health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Moreover, probiotic pills also help you overcome skin conditions by improving your digestion and immune system. The supplement can treat skin disorders like rosacea, acne, and psoriasis. The probiotics supplement also helps enhance your mood and helps you reduce weight.
Certain allergens can trigger allergic responses into your body. The common allergy symptoms include asthma, arthritis, rhinitis, eczema, Urticaria, allergic conjunctivitis. Sometimes, the allergens may also trigger a severe allergy symptom, called anaphylaxis.
However, you may overcome allergy symptoms by adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthily, ensuring proper sleep, exercising, and managing stress. Besides, immunotherapy and meditations are some other ways to treat allergies.
In addition, taking some nutritional supplements like probiotics can also help improve your digestion, gut health, overall immune system; thereby, protecting you against allergies and infections.
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- Katta, R., & Schlichte, M. (2014). Diet and dermatitis: Food triggers. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 7(3), 30–36.