Why Do We Get Allergies? A Deep Dive into Their Causes

Allergic reactions vary in both causes and severity. Still, one thing is sure: many of them can diminish our work productivity and learning efficiency, as well as other issues such as lack of rest or simply missing out on life altogether. Some allergic symptoms, such as a mild rash or runny nose, can be very light, but it doesn’t mean we should overlook them.

Allergy shot

What are allergies?

Allergies are considered disorders of the immune system. When the immune system reacts to a harmless substance in the environment, also known as an allergen, it causes an allergic reaction. Because that substance is seen as a threat to the immune system, large quantities of antibodies (specifically immunoglobulin E) are produced to fight against it. The resulting inflammatory response, an allergic reaction, can go from mild to severe and even death.

One of the most severe allergic reactions is anaphylaxis. This systemic allergic response can affect multiple organ systems, such as the respiratory, digestion, and circulation systems. Symptoms include generalized rashes and itching, breathing difficulty, swelled throat and/or tongue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, shock, and even loss of consciousness. Because anaphylaxis can often be life-threatening, epinephrine injections may be required to alleviate the allergy symptoms.

Causes of allergies

Since allergies are immune system disorders, it’s safe to say that one of their main causes is compromised or low immunity. This can happen in so many ways that it’s hard to list them all. Some of the most frequent include diseases, infections, pregnancy, old age and even stress. Children’s immune system can be strengthened to prevent allergies later in life by exposing them to certain substances and microorganisms like bacteria, antibiotics, certain allergens like dust, pollen and mold, and even pets (pet dander). This helps to familiarize their immune system with these substances so it won’t treat them as threats and cause allergic reactions.

Children and Pets

Apparently, the environment also plays a crucial role in strengthening or weakening your immunity. People living in industrialized, developed areas usually wash often and have very clean homes. As a result, they are too protected from getting into contact with illness-causing bacteria, so their immune system is not adequately developed. In other words, being too clean can get you sick.

The genetic factor is another common cause of allergies, but there’s not much anyone can do about that. Your chances of developing an allergy are 33% if one of your parents has one and 70% if both are allergic. However, the specific kind of allergy is not inherited. This means that if you are to develop an allergy, it will probably be to something completely different than your parents’ ones.

Repeated exposure to certain substances, pollution, secondhand smoke exposure for children, and antibiotics are other factors that can trigger allergic reactions.

Sometimes, people mistake allergies for other diseases because of similar symptoms. Most people also mistake their allergy for the flu or cold. If you suspect you have an allergy but are unsure, it’s best to consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. People with one allergy are prone to developing others, so it might also be your case if you are getting new symptoms or the old ones are worsening. No matter how many allergies you have its best not to leave them unattended. An allergy rarely fades away on its own. Medication and lifestyle changes may be required to treat allergies or reduce their severity.

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