Many people have allergies to a variety of substances. Some of them can be commonly found in their environment or common foods, so they need to be careful to avoid those substances. Their reactions to these substances can be a minor nuisance or they could even be life-threatening. A severe life-threatening allergy is known as anaphylaxis.
Our immune system has evolved to protect us from harmful substances. But sometimes, the immune system mistakes a harmless substance as a harmful one and reacts to it as if it were harmful. Ironically, the immune system’s reactions become more harmful than the substance itself.
While not everyone will have every symptom, here are the most common symptoms of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
Skin symptoms (reported in 80-90% of cases)
Respiratory symptoms (reported in 70% of the cases)
Gastrointestinal symptoms (reported in 30-45% of the cases)
Cardiovascular symptoms (reported in 10-45% of the cases)
Central Nervous System symptoms (reported in 10-15% of the cases)
The best way to manage allergies is to keep track of every substance a person is allergic to and keep those allergens away from their environment as much as possible. This may require checking the ingredients of food items to ensure that allergy-triggering ingredients are not in it. This may also require letting doctors know about any drug allergies a person may have. Medications such an antihistamines, Salbutamol inhalers and an EpiPen should be readily available if allergic reactions are serious. Consultation with an allergy specialist (Immunologist) and immunotherapy can also be considered With these efforts, allergies can be managed and kept to the level of a lifestyle nuisance rather than an imminent threat to life.
Article reviewed by Dr Kenneth Koh Eu Min, Medical Director and Co-founder, OneCare Medical