What is an allergy and how serious can they be?

An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder within the immune system, where allergic reactions occur from everyday substances, such as products, foods and materials. Allergies can be anything from minor to serious, with hay fever at one end of the scale and a deadly nut allergy at the other end. There are a variety of different tests available to test people presenting allergic symptoms, and there are many different anti-histamines and steroid creams available to treat the allergy.

At this particular time in the year, hay fever is one of the most common allergies suffered. Hay fever is an allergy caused mainly by pollen, resulting in the inside of your nose becoming inflamed. Unfortunately, hay fever can make people feel quite unwell, as it affects the nose, eyes, throat, airways, cheekbones and forehead, resulting in people finding it hard to breath, sniffling, having runny eyes and a runny nose, and having itchy eyes, too. Although hay fever is common around the spring and summer months, people who are particularly sensitive to the allergen can experience it in other seasons too, even if the pollen count is low.

Although there is no quick cure for hay fever, the various different symptoms can be treated with tablets, nose spray and eye spray, available at most pharmacies, with stronger medication available on subscription from your doctor.

A more serious allergy people can suffer from is a nut allergy, such as being allergic to peanuts. For those who have a sever allergy to peanuts, eating them, or eating food containing them can put them in a life or death situation. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis with symptoms taking full effect just an hour after coming into contact with the allergen. In this situation, the only treatment is an adrenaline injection, and an ambulance should also be called straight away.

Roughly one in every 100 people in the UK has an allergy to peanuts, with the number increasing rapidly. This is one of the most common nut allergies and has the following symptoms attached to it:

  • Tingling mouth and lips
  • Swelling of the face
  • A feeling of nausea
  • A nettle-type of rash
  • A feeling of tightness around the throat
  • Redness of the skin
  • A low blood pressure
  • A fast heart rate
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Dilation of blood vessels
  • Feeling faint or feeling the need to lay down