Allergy history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Allergy has the potential to influence various organ systems differently. Depending of the rate of severity, it can cause cutaneous reactions, bronchoconstriction, edema, hypotension, coma and even death.

History and Symptoms

Common Symptoms of Allergy
Affected organ Symptom
Nose Swelling of the nasal mucosa (allergic rhinitis)
Sinuses Allergic sinusitis
Eyes Redness and itching of the conjunctiva (allergic conjunctivitis)
Airways Sneezing, coughing, bronchoconstriction, wheezing and dyspnea, sometimes outright attacks of asthma, in severe cases the airway constricts due to swelling known as angioedema
Ears Feeling of fullness, possibly pain, and impaired hearing due to the lack of eustachian tube drainage.
Skin Rashes, such as eczema and hives (urticaria)
Gastrointestinal tract Abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, Diarrhea

Many allergens are airborne particles, such as dust or pollen. In these cases, symptoms arise in areas in contact with air, such as eyes, nose and lungs. For instance, allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, causes irritation of the nose, sneezing, and itching and redness of the eyes.[1] Inhaled allergens can also lead to asthmatic symptoms, caused by narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction) and increased production of mucus in the lungs, shortness of breath (dyspnea), coughing and wheezing.[2]

Aside from these ambient allergens, allergic reactions can result from foods, insect stings, and reactions to medications like aspirin, and antibiotics such as penicillin. Symptoms of food allergy include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, itchy skin, and swelling of the skin during hives or angiooedema. Food allergies rarely cause respiratory (asthmatic) reactions, or rhinitis.[3] Insect stings, antibiotics and certain medicines produce a systemic allergic response that is also called anaphylaxis; multiple systems can be affected including the digestive system, the respiratory system, and the circulatory system.[4][5][6] Depending of the rate of severity, it can cause cutaneous reactions, bronchoconstriction, edema, hypotension, coma and even death. This type of reaction can be triggered suddenly or the onset can be delayed. The severity of this type of allergic response often requires injections of epinephrine, sometimes through a device known as the Epi-Pen auto-injector. The nature of anaphylaxis is such that the reaction can seemingly be subsiding, but may recur throughout a prolonged period of time. [6]

Substances that come into contact with the skin, such as latex are also common causes of allergic reactions, known as contact dermatitis or eczema.[7] Skin allergies frequently cause rashes, or swelling and inflammation within the skin, in what is known as a "wheal and flare" reaction characteristic of hives and angioedema.[8]

References

  1. Bope, Edward T.; Rakel, Robert E. Conn's Current Therapy 2005. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company. p. 880. ISBN 0721 6386 43.
  2. Holgate ST (1998). "Asthma and allergy--disorders of civilization?". QJM. 91 (3): 171–84. PMID 9604069.
  3. Rusznak C, Davies RJ (1998). "ABC of allergies. Diagnosing allergy". BMJ. 316 (7132): 686–9. PMID 9522798.
  4. Golden DB (2007). "Insect sting anaphylaxis". Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 27 (2): 261–72, vii. doi:10.1016/j.iac.2007.03.008. PMID 17493502.
  5. Schafer JA, Mateo N, Parlier GL, Rotschafer JC (2007). "Penicillin allergy skin testing: what do we do now?". Pharmacotherapy. 27 (4): 542–5. doi:10.1592/phco.27.4.542. PMID 17381381.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tang AW (2003). "A practical guide to anaphylaxis". Am Fam Physician. 68 (7): 1325–32. PMID 14567487.
  7. Brehler R, Kütting B (2001). "Natural rubber latex allergy: a problem of interdisciplinary concern in medicine". Arch. Intern. Med. 161 (8): 1057–64. PMID 11322839.
  8. Muller BA (2004). "Urticaria and angioedema: a practical approach". Am Fam Physician. 69 (5): 1123–8. PMID 15023012.



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