Allergies and Allergic Reactions

When an allergen comes into contact with the body, the immune system believes it is under attack.

By Stewart Hare

Allergies are disorders of the immune system, which when a foreign substance that is normally harmless in most people causes an extreme reaction within the body. Contact can be with the skin, lungs, oesophagus, mouth, stomach and intestine and can cause a reaction to those organs plus the musculo-skeletal, genoto-urinary system, bowel, cardio-vascular, nose, eyes and brain. The substances that cause these reactions are called allergens and the person who suffers from this, is said to be allergic to the substance.

When an allergen comes into contact with the body, the immune system believes it is under attack and produces antibodies called IgE to fight it. The antibodies trigger chemicals (the main one being histamine) to different organs of our body from mast cells which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

The most common allergies are to dust mites, pollen, animal dander in household pets, insect bites, food and drink - the most common being milk, wheat, eggs, fish, soy, citrus fruits, seafood and peanuts, washing powder, cosmetics, toiletries, jewellery, mould and mould fungus, latex and rubber and certain drugs such as antibiotics and anesthetics.

Every individual has their own target organ that has more of an allergic reaction than the others organs. Whatever the substance that causes the reaction, the symptoms occurs in the weak target organs whether this is the same point of contact or not. The symptoms as a result from the allergic reaction will be dependant on the function of the afflicted organ and whether it is depressed or excited.

The main organs that are affected are the brain, eyes, ears, nose, lungs, heart, skin, bowel, genoto-urinary system and musculo-skeletal system.

The brain is the most sensitive of the body’s organs and is easily affected by allergies. Mild forms can be as simple as forgetfulness and severe forms can be as serious as dementia. ‘Woolly brain syndrome’ is a common symptom described by most people who suffer from allergies and this is why most people consider it normal. Other afflictions to the brain are anxiety, depression and panic attacks. The eyes can be affected by becoming watery, red and itchy and also afflicted by conjunctivitis. The mastoid glands in the ears can become affected producing pain and infection. When the nose is affected it can show symptoms such as hay fever, rhinitis, catarrh, blocked nose, sinus pain, sneezing and a running nose. The mouth and throat can be affected by swelling of the lips and tongue, sore throat and coughing. The heart can be affected which can cause hypertension, palpitations and irregular heartbeats. Asthma (wheezing and shortness of breath) and bronchitis can be cause by the lungs being affected and bowel can be affected with Crohn’s disease, colitis, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain and vomiting. The skin can be affected becoming itchy, inflamed and having a red rash as with eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and urticaria. Urticaria (hives or nettle rash) can be caused by allergies to bee stings, medicines, animals and foods. The genoto-urinary system can be affected with PMT, cystitis, impotency and frigidity. Arthritis, Myalgia and fibrosis can affect the musculo-skeletal. The most extreme allergic reaction is anaphylaxis.

The target organ can change as the body changes, for instance, a child may have eczema as an infant which then changes to hay fever later in childhood which then can change again to migraine attacks in the teenage years which then can change again to arthritis in old age.

In the UK, 1 in 3 people will suffer from one or more type of allergy, 1 in 5 suffer from hay fever, 1 in 5 school children suffer from asthma and 6 million people have eczema.

Natural substances such as mould, spores, pollen, dust mites, animal dander and insects usually cause an allergic reaction in the upper respiratory systems. They cause redness, itching and fluid in the form of water and mucous and can affect the eyes, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and bronchial tubes.

A person can be allergic to any food, wheat, milk, eggs, corn, yeast, coffee and chocolate are the most common. Food allergies mostly affect the nervous, respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin areas.

Allergic reaction can be caused by food additives and environmental chemicals such as chemical sprays, pesticides, hydrocarbons, tobacco smoke plus thousands of others.

Allergies to certain foods are associated with certain symptoms. For example, headaches are associated with chocolate and wheat, migraine headaches are associated with milk, eggs, nitrates, alcohol, cheese, chocolate, citrus fruit, nuts, wheat, tomatoes and MSG, eczema is associated with eggs, tomatoes and citrus fruits, hay fever is associated with milk, wheat, cola drinks, chocolate and sulfites, hives are associated with strawberries, nuts, pork, mangoes, tomatoes, eggs, chocolate and shellfish, asthma is associated with wheat and eggs, cerebral symptoms are associated with wheat, corn and Soya beans and childhood allergies are associated with fish, beef, rye, milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, artificial colourings and flavourings and salicylates.

Other factors that can contribute to allergies are bad feeding habits in the baby’s first year of life, poor digestion, excess or repeated contact of a particular substance or food, low nutrients level, presents of candida albicans, parasites, worms or other bacteria, stress and environmental toxins.

To help eliminate or reduce the symptoms of allergies it is best to consume lots of still mineral water, brown or white rice, fruit juices except citrus fruit juices, lots of vegetables except corn and tomatoes, fish except shellfish, turkey and almonds, sunflower seeds and walnuts.

In conclusion, good nutritional health is vital to support our immune systems to help ward off allergic reactions to foods and environmental chemicals. Once a person knows they have an allergy, it is best to avoid that food or chemical, improve nutrition and exercise regime, combat stress and generally support the immune system. It is best not to ignore allergic reactions, as they can lead to further more serious illnesses.