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Definition of allergy

An allergy is defined as an immunological response of the body, inappropriate and exaggerated towards certain foreign substances: allergens. An allergy occurs and in contact with pollen, dust mites, animal dander but also certain foods or medications. The environment contains many allergens to which the patient may react allergic.

Allergies can affect the eyes, skin, respiratory system such as the nose or bronchi.

Allergy Information
Today, the number of allergies is increasing in industrialized countries. WHO (World Health Organization) classifies allergic diseases fourth world conditions and considers that these conditions represent "a major public health problem." Allergy reaches all ages, but particularly affects younger. Respiratory allergies are the most common since it is estimated that about one in four present clinical symptoms of respiratory allergy (1).

Causes and mechanisms of allergy

Allergy requires several steps in order to occur. The first step is a step called awareness first encounter with the allergen. It is only from the second minimum contact the allergic reaction is releasing a substance called histamine, causing the symptoms. The action of histamine can be blocked by specific medicines called "antihistamines".

Allergy does not hereditary, but an allergic (or atopic) favors: Children allergic parents are more at risk of having an allergic sensitivity also.

Symptoms of allergy

Allergic symptoms are varied and may occur simultaneously or successively in the life of the allergic:

ENT symptoms
They lead demonstrations near the cold with stuffy nose, runny, sneezing ... is known as allergic rhinitis may be seasonal (pollen allergy or hay fever) or permanent (allergy to pet hair, to mites ...).

Ocular symptoms
They are associated or isolated and consist of eye irritation or allergic conjunctivitis affecting both eyes watery, red eyes and itching, red and swollen eyelids.

The inflammation of the bronchi
Meanwhile this symptom may be more severe, causing respiratory problems as asthma (wheezing, mucus production, cough ...).

Allergic conjunctivitis
This disease results in symptoms of redness and burning of the eye and eyelid.

Skin Problems
The skin can also be achieved in several symptoms, irritation, red blotches or spots. Atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) occurs very early in the infant's life, with redness and itching of the face. Urticaria allergic (small red bumps and intense itching) occurs about him often after ingestion of a drug or a food. Angioedema is the most serious form of allergy, urticaria and generalized edema combination can lead to death.

With what should we be confused?

Contact eczema is a particular form of allergy called delayed. It reaches more adults and combines a red patchy rash, small vesicles (small fluid-filled pimples) and severe itching localized points of contact of the allergen (nickel, professional dyes ...) with skin lesions appear two to three days after contact. The treatment is to avoid contact with the allergen.

In addition, there are cases of true allergy to cow's milk, particularly in infants, but intolerance to milk protein, the most frequent case is often confused with an allergy.

Is there a prevention possible?

Identify the offending allergens can be avoided to the maximum. For example, the main food allergens are egg, peanuts, Rosaceae (cherry, apple, peach, plum ...), the Umbelliferae (celery, carrot, parsley,  fennel ...), tree latex (avocado, kiwi,  banana ...), seafood (oysters), crustaceans and fish.

For dust mite allergy, better moderate room temperature (18-19 ° C maximum), ventilate regularly, avoid carpets and other "dust traps" (curtains, carpets), using mite covers for mattresses, pillows, duvets and bolsters.

For allergies to pollen, avoid picnics and walks during pollination periods (spring, summer), do not mow the lawn or be present during mowing.

In all cases, smoking cessation is desirable.

When to consult?

Symptoms should be treated as emergency angioedema or anaphylaxis (or allergic). Difficulty breathing, generalized edema, voice changes are warning signs requiring the call SAMU Centre 15.

What is the doctor?

Before signs of allergy, a doctor consultation is required. This may refer you to an allergist to identify the allergen (or allergens) in question and develop a treatment.

Any allergy consultation through careful questioning and clinical examination. Depending on the suspected allergens, tests called prick tests or skin tests may be offered. Principle is based on the reproduction on a small scale and at the skin, allergic reactions: an injection is made on the skin (forearm, back) and a drop of allergen is deposited. In case of allergy, redness and itchiness occur.

Other tests or analyzes can be performed depending on the results of tests: blood tests, tests of reproduction ...
Treatments include the allergen avoidance. Of medicines called antihistamines fight against allergy symptoms. Finally, desensitization (or immunotherapy) is sometimes given to treat the cause of the allergy.

How to prepare my next visit?

To facilitate diagnosis and guide the tests, you can even establish a first list of allergens to which you are allergic. To do this, we must reconstruct the history of symptoms (length, frequency, precipitating factors, activities ...) and send it to the doctor during his interrogation.

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