Allergic Reaction

What Is An Allergic Reaction And What Causes It?

Various paper cutouts with the words for several allergy symptomsMost people who have allergies know what type of symptoms to expect when they are exposed to, or come in contact with the substance that they are sensitive to, whether it is pollen, pet dander or some type of food or medication. But do you know what an allergy is exactly and why that particular allergen triggers off that reaction in your body?

At Owl Now Urgent Care Center, we know that an allergic reaction can happen anywhere, at any time and some of the reactions can be very severe and even fatal. If you or someone you love is having an allergic reaction, call us so we can administer the necessary medical care at the earliest to help alleviate the symptoms.

Allergies Explained

An allergy is basically the reaction of the body’s immune system to allergens that it perceives as harmful. When you are exposed to that particular substance the first time, the immune system produces immunoglobulin E, which is a protein that helps fight off allergens just the same way it fights off infections and viruses. When you come in contact with that same allergen the next time, immunoglobulin E or IgE antibodies are released, which causes chemicals to be produced. The IgE antibodies together with these chemicals trigger off the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

As you can see you will rarely see any signs of allergies the first time you come across an allergen. The symptoms of allergies will only come up afterwards at a later point of contact. This is because the immune system has to first develop sensitivity to the substance and it can only do that after the initial exposure. This sensitization process can take an indeterminate amount of time - from a few days to several years, which is why you could go several years without seeing any signs of allergies and then suddenly develop an allergic reason without any apparent reason.

Causes of Allergies

Some of the more common allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Pet dander
  • house dust mites
  • Fungal spores
  • Certain medications
  • Bee and wasp stings
  • Certain foods, especially wheat, milk, seafood, nuts and some fruit
  • Household chemicals
  • Latex

Symptoms of allergies can range from sniffling and sneezing to skin rashes, itchy skin and other skin problems depending upon the causative allergen. You should remember that some of these symptoms could be caused by some other conditions too and it is absolutely important to consult with the doctor to confirm the cause of the symptoms before resorting to any type of self-medication.