Allergies are a common issue among children and adults alike. In fact, roughly 50 million people in the US have nasal allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The underlying causes of allergic reactions are not yet fully understood, but researchers do know what occurs when people are exposed to allergens. There are also some notable factors that can increase the risk of developing an allergy.
Immune System Response
Allergic reactions occur when the human body’s immune system mistakenly identifies certain foreign substances as potential dangers. These substances are typically harmless and only cause reactions in those with allergies. The immune system produces proteins called antibodies, which attach themselves to the foreign substances. This allows other immune system cells to easily locate and destroy them.
When people are exposed to allergens, their immune system produces a different type of antibody, called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This leads to symptoms such as a stuffy nose or trouble breathing, depending on where IgE antibodies are produced. In those with an allergy, the immune system will produce these antibodies when it is exposed to particular allergens.
Allergy Risk Factors
Although anyone can develop an allergy to certain substances, some people have a higher risk. Those with a family history of allergies, such as hay fever or asthma, have an increased risk. Having one parent with an allergy can result in a 33 percent chance of developing one, while having two parents with them can lead to a 70 percent chance.
Other factors that can lead to a higher risk of allergic reactions include having asthma or at least one allergic condition. Those who have one allergy might be more likely to develop more of them. Children also have an increased risk of developing an allergy compared to adults, although some eventually outgrow these as they get older. Adults and children who are exposed to an allergen when their immune system is weaker might also have a higher risk of getting an allergy.
Researchers don’t fully understand what causes allergies to develop. Even those with a family history of allergies won’t necessarily end up with them. Researchers believe that the exact cause of these reactions is a result of several factors coming together, although more research is needed to determine exactly what these factors are.
There are several different substances that can trigger allergic reactions in people. Some of these reactions affect the nasal passages and sinuses, while others mainly affect the lungs. Some allergens trigger skin reactions, such as hives or rashes.
Common types of allergens known to affect humans include the following:
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- Insect stings
- Pollen, ragweed and other airborne allergens that come from trees, bushes and other vegetation
- Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, shellfish and certain other foods
- Medications, such as penicillin
Those who suffer from allergies can often find relief from different types of treatments. These include taking medications that help ease symptoms, receiving immunotherapy injections and avoiding known allergens. Balloon sinuplasty can also provide relief. This technique involves using a small balloon to open up the nasal passages and reduce inflammation.
If you would like more information on allergies and sinus issues, please consult with the American Sinus Institute. We offer balloon sinuplasty, which is an effective way to relieve allergy symptoms. Contact us for more information.