What Are Allergies?

Do you know someone who sneezes every time they get near a cat? Or do you struggle to breathe if you eat a peanut? What about getting puffy eyes during summertime when the plants are in full bloom?

If any of that is happening to you, or someone you know, then an allergy might be the reason. We all have an immune system that protects us from harm; it stops diseases from hurting us. But sometimes, it can overreact to a particular thing, be that peanuts or cheese or wasp stings, and then you’ll get ill every time you come in contact with that thing.

You’re more likely to have an allergy if someone in your close family already has one; you’ll inherit a higher risk from them. But people without allergies in the family can still have allergies themselves; it happens to a lot of people, and it’s incredibly annoying.

Some allergies are pretty mild; pollen, for example, only happens in the summer, and it causes your eyes and nose to run. It can be annoying, but not life-threatening. Other allergies, however, are a lot more dangerous; a severe peanut allergy, for example, could very well kill you. It causes your throat to close up, preventing you from breathing. Epi-pens help in those circumstances, a pen-shaped device that can inject adrenaline straight into your body and calm down the allergic reaction.

There’s no way to cure an allergy yet, although some allergies can be reduced by introducing your body to tiny amount of the thing so you can get your immune system used to it. That sometimes works, but not always, sadly. Most people with allergies just have to learn to live with it.

The best way to control it is to avoid contact with the thing you’re allergic to. That can be easy if you’re allergic to milk; you can usually avoid drinking milk and eating things that have milk in them. There’s always a risk that there’ll be a bit of milk in something you eat in a restaurant, so you always have to be careful, but it can be done.

With other things, it’s more difficult, though. With pollen, for example, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to shut yourself indoors throughout the entire summer, so you’re going to be stuck with a runny nose, streaming eyes, and feeling bunged up for quite some time. But anti-histamines might help; it’s a special type of medicine that reduces some or all of the symptoms.

If you know someone with an allergy, it might be worth checking out how you can help them; do they need someone to inject them with an epi-pen in an emergency, for example?

If you’re allergic to something, then please take care of yourself; you need to tread carefully and not do anything to endanger your health. Make sure people know what to do in case of an emergency, and get checked out by your doctor regularly to make sure you’re still healthy.

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