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How To Identify Allergy Symptoms

Mar 15, 2008
The term allergy originated in 1906 when a Viennese pediatrician named Clemens von Pirquet observed that some of his patients were extremely sensitive to certain foods and various substances, such as dust and pollen. The doctor called this condition as "allergy" from the Greek words "allos"(meaning, other) and "ergon"(meaning, work).

Earlier doctors believed that allergy symptoms were caused by a malfunction of the antibody called Immunoglobulin. However, later studies showed that various disease mechanisms affect these symptoms.

Today, billions of people worldwide suffer from allergy symptoms from different sources of foods and substances. Allergies are considered one of the leading causes of chronic diseases.

There are different kinds of allergens, each with unique allergy symptoms. These include plant pollens (such as birch trees, ragweed, rye grass and timothy grass), mold spores, medications (penicillin, salicylates, local anesthetics, sulfonamides), insect stings (bee venom, wasp sting), animal allergens (dust mite, dander, animal hair, cockroach calyx), latex products and foods (nuts, seafood, egg whites, sesame, soy, milk, wheat, corn, peas, soybeans, beans and other legumes).

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Allergies

Since there are dozens of possible sources of allergy symptoms, proper diagnosis can be a difficult process. For this reason, doctors use several methods in assessing allergens and arriving at an accurate diagnosis.

Skin tests are usually the first laboratory exam a doctor performs in all kinds of allergies. Using the prick-test method, small amounts of the suspected causes or allergens (pollen, dander, drops of milk, nut extracts, etc) are applied to the patient's skin. When a patient experiences allergy symptoms, such as itching, reddening or swelling, within an hour after application, he or she is truly allergic to the product. The patient should keep away from these substances or foods as much as possible.

Although the skin test is the most preferred method in spotting the causes of allergy symptoms, it still has some drawbacks. While most people experience itching or swelling immediately after direct contact or intake of a product, other people may display the allergy symptoms several hours or even days after the skin test. Proper treatment to reduce symptoms is important because some allergies can be fatal, with or without physical signs.

Although different kinds of allergies affect people, one thing remains the same ?medical treatments for allergies are not available to cure these conditions. Instead, they are only used in reducing inflammation, rashes, hives or other allergy symptoms. The best factor for the healing process of allergies is still the removal of food or substance sources from your home, office and other areas in which contact with the harmful allergens is likely.
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