Many people these days are worried about chronic allergies and generally ask these questions:
- How chronic allergies develop?
- What can be done to prevent chronic allergies?
- What diet should be taken to get rid of allergies?
- Is chronic allergy curable?
And there are various other questions as well which the sufferers of chronic allergies ask and worry about. Reason? Here are some official stats from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA):
- More than 50 million Americans have experienced various types of allergies each year.
- Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
- People visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies.
- The annual cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion.
- Food allergies cost about $25 billion each year.
These are some of the main reasons why people worry and ask frequently about chronic allergies and their prevention methods. Although, once you become a victim of chronic allergy, there is no cure for it. However, there are certain methods and treatments which will help in its prevention, in the first place or control it effectively if you somehow get it. While we will discuss various aspects of chronic allergies in this narrative in detail, we would first like to begin with one of the most effective ways to prevent allergies – strengthening the immune system.
Relation Between Immune System and Chronic Allergies
It is a well-known fact that allergic reactions initially begin their journey from the immune system. When a person encounters an allergic substance such as mold, pollen, or dust, the immune system starts to overreact and produce antibodies that attack the allergens. This reactionary change in the immune system results in a person feeling runny nose, wheezing, itching, watery or itchy eyes, and in serious cases, other aggravated symptoms. So, in a brief overview, your immune system, and the way it responds to an allergic substance, is pretty much a match made in heaven. Therefore, everyone needs to know how a strong and robust immune system helps fight and prevent chronic allergies. Let us find out about this in the following chapter.
How Strengthening Immune System Helps Prevent Allergies
In groundbreaking research conducted by the Institut Pasteur in 2015, they found out that the microbiota – a microbe that lives in intestines – is directly involved with various major functions, including the immune defense system. If these microbiotas are in reduced numbers, they may lower the strength of the defense system and makes the body prone to allergies (source: ScienceDaily). In addition to genetic and environmental factors, strengthening the immune system radically enhances your defenses against the fiercest of allergies.
Many people generally adopt over-the-counter medicines or prescription methods to counter chronic allergies. Choosing an over-the-counter medicine to help against an allergy is not a bad option, but a risky one for the layman. There are indeed some good OTC remedies available to counter chronic allergies, but most of the medicines can only be bought via prescription. In their haste to defend against the irritant allergen, people generally do not bother about a prescription and takes it unto themselves to find the ideal drug – a serious gamble against your health. Dr. Ahmed Sedaghat, a specialist ENT at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have this to say:
"People often make the wrong decision about which medication to take and they wind up being undertreated. They try a mix of medications, but don't get relief."
(Source: Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School)
One way to avoid drastic medicine-based repercussions is by eating certain healthy foods that strengthen our immune defenses and greatly help to prevent/managing allergies. To be specific, studies have proved that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are highly effective against allergic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids greatly improve gut health and help prevent bronchial inflammation, which aids in the healthy levels of microbiota in the intestines.
There are various food sources from which enough omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained. Foods such as fish, cod-liver oil, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables are some of the best dietary sources for omega-3 fatty acids. However, apart from taking a healthy diet, there are some other lifestyle habits that one can adopt to further strengthen the immune system in its fight against allergies. Following are the recommended lifestyle habits which will make your immunity stronger and healthier:
- Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep daily
- Eat lean proteins, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats as much as you can
- Leave smoking and the use of other tobacco products
- Eliminate the use of alcohol
- Wash your hands throughout the day
- Keep a check on your blood pressure
- Exercise regularly
Following these lifestyle habits with the right kind of food will empower your immune system enough to defend itself against allergens, as well as several other health conditions in the long run. But this is only one aspect of successfully diminishing the chances of getting chronic allergies, there are some other recommendations as well that are directly related to allergies. These recommendations are laid down by the experts of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA). Let us read about them in detail!
Recommended Ways to Prevent Allergic Reactions
The following guidelines help in controlling the number of known allergens around you, such as dust mites, animal dander, pollens, mold spores, etc. Read these tips and follow them to stop the spread of allergens in your home:
- Keep your home clean and clutter-free
- Dust and vacuum your house twice a week
- Keep the indoor air clean; use an air conditioner if possible
- Keep the plants inside your house as minimum as possible
- Keep your pet away from the bedroom, as well as keep its doors closed if you have a pet
- Use rugs instead of carpets
- Buy allergen-proof pillows and mattresses
- Use a dehumidifier
These tips, coupled with a strong immunity factor, will dramatically increase your chances of fending off several types of allergies. In case you are already suffering from some form of an allergic reaction, adopt the above-mentioned methods right away and consult a specialist ENT immediately. This is the best way to go if you are suffering from any form of an allergic reaction. But since there are several forms of chronic allergies, you must know the difference between some of the major ones that are mild to severe (even life-threatening) and their basic symptoms. This information will help you realize the danger you are in and how to formulate a response against the emerging problem.
Common Types of Allergies, from Mild to Severe
As we all know beforehand, an allergic reaction occurs whenever our immune system sees an allergen substance as harmful to the body. But there are varied types of allergens, as well as allergic reactions caused by them. Some are mild but some can be severe, and in certain cases, could even be life-threatening. In this chapter, we will discuss the most common forms of allergies that are ranked from mild to severe, their effects on the body, and how to counter them in the best way.
Another important thing to note over here is the fact that some allergies are seasonal while others stay all year round. Some of them can be controlled in a short time by following precautions while others stay lifelong. Whatever be the case, if you are well-informed about your condition, how to prevent it, and what to do to live your life normally with it, it will be nothing less then a blessing. So, let us empower ourselves with this crucial knowledge right away!
Food Allergy -:
Food allergy occurs when our immune system considers a food substance as a harmful one for the body. Foods that cause an allergic reaction in the body are also known as allergens. It is one of the most common types of allergies and it is divided into two main forms, which we will be discussing in a minute. While food allergies can be kept mild or prevented by following precautions, but if it gets worse, it can take a potentially life-altering or even life-threatening form, like the anaphylaxis (source: FARE).
The two forms of food-based allergic reactions are as follows:
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE) allergic reaction
- Non-Immunoglobulin (IgE) allergy reaction
The first form of food allergy is caused when the body’s immune system releases antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE), which develops an allergic reaction to certain types of foods and cause allergic symptoms. These symptoms appear in the lungs, throat, skin, and nose. The type of foods to which Immunoglobulin E reacts to are as follows:
- Tree Nut
The second form of food allergy, which is known as non-immunoglobulin (IgE), occurs when other major organs of the body react to certain types of foods. What is distinct about this form of food allergy is that there is no involvement of the IgE antibody in its cause, but other components from the immune system. The symptoms appear in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. The most common causative foods for non-IgE allergic reactions are milk, wheat, and soy proteins.
Mold Allergy -:
Mold allergy is a seasonal allergic reaction caused by the spores of mold or fungi. Since molds are everywhere on the surface of the Earth, this kind of allergy is one of the most common ones to occur. When mold is upset by an external influence, it sends spores flying into the air which then enters our lungs via the nose and the mouth, thus causing our immune system to react. The spores, or seeds of the mold, works differently in different weather conditions. For example, some type of spores’ spreads fast in dry and windy weather, while others thrive in a foggy and humid climate. Symptoms from mold allergy can be a runny nose, scaling skin, sneezing, itching, and congestion. Most forms of mold-based allergic reactions are not serious ones, but certain allergic conditions developed after mold reaction can be dangerous such as mold-induced asthma, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, etc. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of mold allergies is to keep the air and home clean from fungus, dust, and dirt.
Pollen Allergy -:
Pollen allergy is also a very common allergic reaction, and it is also a seasonal one as well. People often know this form of allergic reaction as “hey fever,” but expert ENT’s generally refer it to as “seasonal allergic rhinitis.” Pollen allergy occurs when plants release tiny pollens in fall, summer, and spring to fertilize with the plants of the same species. Pollens released specifically by weeds, trees, and grasses are the main culprits of an allergic reaction. If affected, the person may feel runny nose, red watery eyes; itchiness in mouth, ears, and nose; nasal congestion, sneezing, and swelling around eyes. Pollen allergies can be a bothering experience, but it does not lead to a life-threatening situation. Bu using ENT-prescribed medication and changing the lifestyle a bit (avoiding grassy spaces, plants, etc.) can easily eliminate the symptoms.
There are various other forms of allergies as well, but the ones we have described above are the most common. So, the simple way of overcoming an allergic reaction, as we have learned thus far, is by simply consulting your doctor and following easy lifestyle changes can make the complete difference. Remember, a person can not determine what type of allergy they are suffering from themselves so it is always best to avoid going out and buying over-the-counter medicines yourself. Making such a decision without a certified doctor consultation can easily plunge you into several other health issues and worsen your allergic reaction, even to a level of a life-threatening situation. So, be wise and seek help from a professional and avoid those things which makes you easily prone to an allergic reaction.