Allergy is becoming an increasing problem in today's society. Each year, the number of people affected are rising (5% annual rise), and as many of a half of all children affected by allergy in some way.
There are a number of different types of allergy; food, chemicals, pollen, house dust mites and animal fur to name but a few. Skin reactions to washing powders, plasters and even metals are becoming ever more common.
Allergy comes in many different forms and in simple terms it can be divided into two types:
- Immediate reactions (IgE-mediated allergy)
- Delayed reactions (non-IgE-mediated allergy).
IgE-mediated allergy: immediate reactions
Mild to moderate allergy symptoms typically affect the skin, the respiratory system and the gut. Reactions usually occur within the few minutes following exposure, but occasionally they can take longer to appear.
What are the symptoms suggested of an IgE-mediated reaction?
- A flushed face, hives, a red and itchy rash around the mouth, tongue or eyes
- Mild swelling, particularly of the lips, eyes and face
- An itchy mouth or throat
- A runny nose, sneezing and watering eyes
- Nausea and vomiting, tummy cramps and diarrhoea.
Mild reactions can usually be treated by avoidance of further exposure to the allergen. You may benefit from an antihistamine (follow the advice of your doctor) or occasionally a short course of steroids.
If signs of anaphylaxis or severe allergy occur, you must seek emergency assistance.
What are the common triggers of IgE mediated reactions?
- Pollen (hay fever)
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- A number of different foods (including peanuts, cow's milk protein (CMPA), eggs, or shellfish)
- Medications (such as penicillin)