Practically everyone experiences allergic reactions to something or the other. Allergies are not contagious or hereditary as allergies form according to the body constitution of a person. Some people are allergic to bee stings, some to latex, some to dust and some to flower pollens. Whichever allergy you may suffer from, it affects only you and does not pass on to anyone else.
When you suffer from allergic reactions, it is basically the response of the body to an ‘invader’ called the antigen. The antigen triggers the body immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body from harmful agents like bacteria and toxins. And this trigger is called an allergic reaction. The trigger or allergen can be anything like some food, medications, plants, dust, insect venoms or bacteria.
Once the body is exposed to an antigen, a chain of reactions starts in the body. First the white blood cells produce antibodies specific to the antigen through ‘sensitization’. It is these antibodies that detect and destroy substance that induce disease and sickness. Usually the antibody involved in allergic reactions is called immunoglobulin E.
The antibody then produces and releases chemicals and hormones called ‘mediators’, where histamine is a famous mediator. These mediators affect the local tissue and organs while activating more white blood cells and this produces symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Sudden release of the mediator leads to sudden and severe allergic reactions. As different people suffer from different triggers that trigger allergies, you have to find out what you are allergic to. Sometimes, besides food, dust and bee stings, minor injuries, exercise, emotions and hot or cold temperatures can become your trigger for allergic reactions.
The allergic reaction may take place in a spot in the form of a small skin rash or itchy eyes, or over the body like a body rash. Sometimes you may develop a persistent cough, congestion or a running nose. Sometimes the allergic reactions may have more than one symptom too, and sometimes, it may be life threatening like in anaphylaxis. The extent of the allergy depends on the person, and is sometimes unpredictable.
Though allergies tend to run in a family, it is not necessary to be hereditary. So there is a chance of your suffering from an allergy even if no one else suffers from the allergy in your family. It has been found out that people having one trigger for allergic reactions usually have other triggers too. It is also those having some medical conditions that are more prone to allergic reactions. Its best you visit your family doctor to find out what may trigger allergic reactions in your body.