Allergies are a hypersensitive immune reaction to substances that enter or come into contact with your body. Such substances include bee venom, pollen, mold, penicillin, dander, peanuts, dairy, and much more. These “allergens” can be found in foods, drinks, medications, pets, and the environment around us. Whenever your body encounters allergens, it produces substances known as antibodies to chemically fight them off. It is this interaction between the allergen and the antibodies that cause an allergic reaction.
Allergies are very common. They are sure to affect more than one out of four people at some point in their lives. The condition is much more common in children than in adults. In fact, a team of researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine claimed that an estimated 8 percent of children in the United States have some kind of food allergy. Moreover, around 30% percent of children with allergies have allergic reactions to more than one food substance, and 38% percent have a history of anaphylaxis reactions, such as an acute episode to an antigen such as a bee sting. Another study, published in the September 2013 issue of JAMA Pediatrics, revealed that allergic reactions to food substances cost the US approximately $25 billion annually.
Some allergies will go away once a child gets older, although most are thought to be lifelong. Adults can also develop allergic reactions to substances they weren’t allergic to as children. Having an allergic reaction can be a mild nuisance, or it can be life-threatening. According to the National Health Society, most allergies are mild and can be kept under control. There are many treatment options that can help relieve symptoms.
Why Allergies Happen
One may blame triggers such as pollen, bee sting, or your cat for the symptoms; but as mentioned earlier, your immune system is ultimately responsible for the reactions. It mistakes innocent substances in your surroundings for serious threats and attacks them as a defence mechanism. The result – allergies.
The odds of developing an allergic reaction depends on your genes. A tendency towards having allergies is inherited. Studies show that children with a parent with an allergic reaction have a 33 percent chance of developing the same allergies. If one has two parents with allergies, there is even a greater chance, around 70 percent, of developing similar allergies.