FAQ’s about allergies

An allergy or an allergic reaction is an abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances. In most cases they are mere botherations, however, in some cases, an allergy can be really confusing due to its variations. There are different kinds of allergies, namely;

  • Food allergy
  • Dust allergy
  • Drug allergy

If you have any kind of allergies, you are bound to have questions about them. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about allergies to help you know more about them.

  1. What is an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s response to a particular substance to which it becomes extremely sensitive. These responses can be as minute as itching, pale skin and can be as fatal as vomiting, diarrhea or worse, death.

  1. What are the types of allergies?

There are many different types of allergies, the most common ones being;

Food Allergies: are caused as a result of reactions caused by specific foods in some people. Food items like nuts, eggs, shellfish, soy etc. are the most common food allergens. The symptoms caused include facial swelling, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing.

Allergic Rhinitis: this type of allergy is caused by a variety of indoor and outdoor allergens which eventually lead to the inflammation of the nasal passages, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Insect Allergy: is caused by stinging and non-stinging insects. Stinging insects like bees and wasps are the most common allergy-causing insects. This is one of the most dangerous types of allergic reactions and causes swelling, inflammation around the affected area. Its symptoms include increased pulse rate, difficulty in breathing, decreased blood pressure causing shock.

Drug allergy: is developed in case rashes develop on the body after taking a certain medication. In most cases, after effects of taking a medicine are only side effects and not allergic reactions.

  1. Are allergies life threatening?

When people who have severe allergies, are exposed to something they’re allergic to, they experience a reaction known as an Anaphylaxis which, if untreated, could be extremely dangerous and could potentially be fatal. Some people are more susceptible to allergies and also at a higher risk of developing allergies. In some cases, allergies are also unpredictable where people with even a mild allergy can progress to develop a life-threatening reaction.

  1. Is there a cure for allergies?

There is no permanent cure for allergies, however, the symptoms can be treated and controlled. Consult a specialist for immunotherapy, which consists of allergy shots, oral tablets or drops. They don’t “cure” allergies, but they can reduce your sensitivity towards the triggers and your allergic response towards it.

  1. Are allergies hereditary?

Allergies could be hereditary if your parent suffers from a particular allergy, there are chances that you may develop the same. However, this does not always necessarily happen at all times, it is a 50-50 chance, although if both parents suffer from the same allergy, the chances may increase up to 75%.

  1. What is the difference between an allergy and intolerance?

Allergy is an acute reaction to a particular substance resulting in symptoms such as facial swelling, itching and involves the immune system. This can also sometimes be life-threatening.

On the other hand, Intolerance, most commonly seen in food products, is a reaction which is not life-threatening and doesn’t involve the immune system. It is a very slow response compared to an allergic reaction. It could be an immediate or slow reaction to a particular food item. For instance, lactose intolerance is the inability to digest sugar commonly found in dairy products like milk, yogurt etc.

Dr. Azam Ashraf

General Practitioner

Aster Clinic, Al Quoz

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