What to do if you get an allergic reaction: symptoms, causes, and prevention

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Allergic reactions are a serious condition many Americans face due to an abnormal immune response in the body that, in some cases, can result in death.

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system responds to a foreign allergen that is not commonly believed to be harmful. A mild reaction may have minor symptoms such as inflammation, or more serious cases can result in anaphylactic shock. Allergies to a certain food, such as peanuts, are common allergic reactions that affect a small portion of the population. 

Read below to find out the symptoms and treatments for allergic reactions. You should seek a medical expert during serious or life-threatening cases. Anaphylaxis is the most severe result of an allergic reaction and can lead to respiratory failure while causing the skin to swell. 

What are the 4 types of allergic reactions?

Type I is an immediate reaction to allergens that may occur after a few seconds to minutes resulting from pollen, insect bites, dust mites, or certain foods. It is associated with the common allergic reaction to food and can, in severe cases, lead to anaphylaxis. Type 2 is when the reaction sets in after a few minutes or hours after the antibodies have a damaging effect on the body’s cells.

Vomiting is a  common symptom of an allergic reaction.

Type III starts showing up after several hours with the antibodies reacting to allergens and is often associated with Lupus, Serum sickness, and Arthus reaction. The final and most delayed stage is type IV which may take hours or days to occur and is present in long-term infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and fungal infections. 


British immunologists Robert Coombs and Philip Gell established these four types of hypersensitive body reactions in 1963. 

What are the symptoms and causes? 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction vary based on which type it is and the severity it has on the immune system. Generally, many people experience swelling, redness of the skin, sneezing, rashes, hives, vomiting, bloating, pain, itchy nose, and watery eyes. However, anaphylaxis symptoms are more life-threatening and severe on the individual’s body, including painful skin rashes, shortness of breath, chest tightness, lips, tongue or throat swelling, and stomach pain. Immediate medical attention is recommended for those suffering from anaphylaxis. 

In severe cases of anaphylaxis it is recommended you seek medical attention immediately or call 9-1-1. 

In severe cases of anaphylaxis it is recommended you seek medical attention immediately or call 9-1-1. 

Some allergic reactions may be triggered by insect bites, mold, pollen, specific foods, and drugs. 


How do I prevent it? 

To avoid an allergic reaction, an individual must be aware of the harmful allergens and actively avoid them. Many allergens are airborne, so an individual should wash out their nose daily with a nasal saline rinse to limit the effect it may have on the body. 

Various medications are made to treat these reactions, including corticosteroids for nasal allergies, corticosteroid cream for itchiness from rashes, and the auto-injector pen device epinephrine for anaphylaxis. 


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