An allergy is a condition where your body is hyper-sensitive to a food or something in your environment that would not normally affect others. Allergies are quite common. Allergy UK say around 1 in 4 people will be affected by some kind of allergy.
Some of the most common allergies are hayfever (allergy to pollen), dust mites and pets. Other people are allergic to nuts, milk, bee and wasp stings and many other allergens.
Allergies are different to sensitivities (increased reaction to a normal side effect such as with caffeine) or intolerances (which is particularly associated with foods and causes unpleasant symptoms, but not ones that are severe and involve the immune system)
What is an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction is caused by the immune system. When it comes into contact with the substance that affects you, it identifies it as a threat and produces antibodies to fight it off. This causes the allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can be mild or severe. Common symptoms including runny, itchy nose, sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, mild rash, stomach pain and vomiting depending on which allergen affects you. In severe cases your body can go into anaphylactic shock which can cause problems breathing, severe swelling or a drop in blood pressure.
How to treat allergies
There is no known cure for allergies, instead treatment involves reducing the symptoms.
People who are known to have severe allergies carry often carry an epi-pen to enable instant treatment if they come into contact with an allergen.
For more mild allergies a range of allergy relief solutions are available to reduce allergic rhinitis, which causes runny, itchy nose, to soothe eyes, and to help you breathe more easily.
Tower Health's natural allergy solutions
It is a good idea to try to avoid your allergen as far as is possible. This can be easier with some allergies than others. If you suffer from a dust mite or mosquito allergy, you can reduce your contact using a room protector or personal protection. For hayfever, wraparound glasses can stop pollen coming into contact with your eyes.