Allergies are a common health complication experienced across populations, affecting nearly 50 million people in the United States on an annual basis alone. Ranging in symptomatology and severity, allergies can be an otherwise mild impediment or severe concern for an individual’s health and well-being.
Because it’s the job of the immune system to protect the body from anything foreign that is identified as an intruder, allergic reactions are often the result. The process is designed to both set a biological alarm and defend the body against what is seen as an attack. These reactions can range from general inflammation to a higher level of other symptoms.
In what follows, we’ll be exploring the different potential symptoms associated with allergies, ranging from a mild fever and runny nose to sinusitis, asthma, and reactive airway disease. Further, we’ll also explore why such symptoms and reactions occur and what can be expected in a medical scenario should these symptoms become a serious concern.
Categorized as an immune system reaction to a foreign substance, allergies tend to be associated with external nonhuman substances such as pollen or animal fur. The many types of allergies include food allergies, pet allergies, plant allergies, dust allergies, mold allergies, and even insect allergies.
In many cases, these allergens aren’t harmful or toxic to a healthy human being. Such examples would be seemingly healthy foods like nuts and butter. Because associative antibodies identify these substances as harmful intruders in individuals who have such an allergy, allergic reactions are the end result.
Again, depending on the individual and type of allergy, symptoms, and severity can range greatly. Most allergenic symptoms, however, include symptoms such as general itchiness, hives, rashes, congestion, and minor swelling of the lymph nodes.
While much of what’s known about allergies and their predictability is related to genetics, there has been no conclusive understanding as to the exact reason why allergies develop in particular individuals.
Common Types of Symptoms
As a bodily reaction to a substance that has been identified as harmful, allergic symptoms are the body’s way of signaling danger.
While allergic reactions comprise several subtypes of symptoms, the following are some of the most common and their etiology.
Otherwise known as hives or chronic hives, urticaria is a very common allergic reaction seen at the level of the skin. Unlike other allergic symptoms such as hay fever, the cause of urticaria is idiopathic, meaning the cause is not yet known or understood.
Hives are identified as the development of red welts at the skin surface. They are caused by the substance histamine, which is triggered by the immune system response to the allergen. Histamine causes dilated small blood vessels and capillary leaking, which will produce the red discoloration and swelling that ensues. Hives also produce significant itchy sensation.
To experience relief from uncomfortable and irritable symptoms of urticaria, antihistamines are the usual treatment. Should symptoms persist and worsen, additional medication may be required.
If a patient has developed a pollen allergy, they will be susceptible to uncomfortable symptoms with the change of seasons due to trees and grass, and this has been called hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever include moderate swelling along the lining of the nasal mucosa, and this process is also mediated by histamine.
Other potential symptoms include sneezing and coughing, itchy eyes with redness, earache, extreme fatigue, and even a loss of smell during the time of the reaction.
If the individual also suffers from secondary complications such as asthma, other symptoms are likely to result, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a dry cough that can last quite a while.
Otherwise referred to as nasal congestion or runny nose, rhinitis is often categorized as an allergic reaction that is again mediated by histamine. Whether due to an external pollutant or viral illness, inflammation occurs, and the symptoms can range in severity from mild to severe.
In some cases, the sinuses can become involved, and inflammation develops in the lining of the sinuses. Mucus then builds up within the sinuses, and this can also lead to possible infection, which can require the treatment of antibiotics.
As mentioned previously, individuals who have asthma as a secondary condition can have exacerbation of their asthma symptoms, and they may require additional treatment on top of their already prescribed therapy.
While not all allergies and associative symptoms are particularly threatening, many can be quite challenging to manage or, at the very least, can become a hindrance to one’s quality of life.
Even if the particular symptoms don’t present a serious threat, those who suffer from secondary and tertiary health conditions, such as asthma, are at greater risk of severe complications, such as anaphylaxis.
Allergies that are managed in a timely fashion by medications prescribed or by lifestyle changes lead to much-improved comfort in the lives of individuals who are affected by this condition.
Allergies are a common health condition affecting about 50 million individuals in the United States each year. The condition occurs in individuals of all ages.
Multiple types of allergies occur secondary to many different allergens, and individuals can have mild or severe symptoms or no symptoms. Several treatment and management protocols can be utilized for allergic conditions.
In what follows, we’ll be exploring the physiology of allergies and will define how they develop. We’ll also discuss the role that antibodies play and how particular treatment works to counteract the physiology of allergic reactions.
An allergy is defined as an immune system reaction to a foreign intruder, such as pollen, fur, venom, mold, or food that doesn’t agree with your biology. This means that the foreign substance causes the body’s immune system to react and produce antibodies against the substance. The substance might not even be harmful, and it can still trigger the immune system to react. If this occurs, the substance is an allergen to the individual.
Through the stimulation of immune cells that then release chemicals to signal an unwelcomed intruder, allergenic substances ultimately cause a ripple effect of potential symptoms, ranging in severity from mild to severe and can be fatal.
Mild allergic signs and symptoms may include generalized itchiness, rashes, or congestion. Moderate allergic signs and symptoms may include intensified itch, shortness of breath, moderate swelling, or wheezing when breathing. Severe allergic signs and symptoms may include vomiting, confusion, low blood pressure, swelling of the airway that can lead to difficulty swallowing and life-threatening respiratory distress.
There are several types of allergies, including drug allergies, food allergies, pet allergies, pollen allergies, and insect allergies. Each of these substances can lead to symptoms that can be mild or severe, depending on the individual.
Causes of Allergies
Although the study of allergies and immunology has not conclusively identified why certain allergies occur, there is a level of certainty that there is a genetic component. In addition, though the development of allergic issues in a child of someone with specific allergies is not absolutely predictable, a higher likelihood of the allergic condition exists in these children. They may also be more likely than nonallergic individuals to develop allergies in their later years.
Autoimmune conditions in which the body develops antibodies against itself, such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, may have a correlation with general allergic illness. Studies have also suggested that individuals who have allergic conditions have a higher risk of developing autoimmune conditions than the general population.
Though allergic reactions range in type, those that present a noticeable physical reaction, such as hives, which are the red welts on the skin, are the result of histamine release. During such a reaction, histamine is released from mast cells (a type of white blood cell) and causes symptoms such as hives and swelling.
The body’s response to a substance that it identifies as an allergen can be dramatic and rapid with the development of IgE antibodies. IgE antibodies are the type of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to an allergen. The body also has other blood cells that help defend against disease, infection, and allergens which are known as eosinophils.
Allergic reaction treatment and management options are readily available for any type of allergy, and the treatment is often timely and effective. These interventions can often be done without requiring an immediate visit to your medical provider in each incident.
Allergy Treatment and Management
The treatment and management options for allergic reactions often fall into the categories of oral medications, injectable medications, and immunotherapy. Some natural therapies can also be helpful as alternatives.
The following are the most common management options for different allergies:
Depending on the allergy, oral medications are often utilized. Different medications can be utilized for the treatment of most mild allergies, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants. These medications can be useful as an allergy symptom reliever after the onset of symptoms or as a preventative medication.
Injectable medications are most often used in emergent situations, and an example of this type of medication is epinephrine. Epinephrine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that causes vasoconstriction of the smooth muscle of blood vessels, and it also causes relaxation of the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes in the lungs. These qualities help to counteract the complications that occur in a severe allergic reaction. Epinephrine can be administered through what’s most commonly known as an EpiPen.
Immunotherapy is a different treatment option that is utilized as a preventative measure for allergy management. In the process, an allergen substance is injected in a very small amount to induce a small allergic reaction.
Through the use of this method, the body is trained to handle small amounts of the particular allergen, and over time, the body adapts and will have a progressively improved response to the allergen.
While most natural remedies are only effective for the mildest of cases, the majority of them are easily implemented. Examples of natural remedies include herbal teas and certain essential oils.
Allergies can range from mild to very severe, and they can range from simply annoying symptoms to life-threatening emergencies.
Most allergies, however, are both treatable and manageable and, in some cases, can be prevented.
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common among children and adults alike. It seems as though everyone knows someone who suffers from a food allergy. The most typical food allergies include dairy, soy, nuts, shellfish, and others.
Some additional types of food allergies include seed, gluten, and wheat allergies.
While the majority of food allergies occur during childhood, they often persist throughout adulthood. With an increase in awareness surrounding food allergies, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of a food allergy and how to avoid them where possible.
In what follows, we’ll discuss the different signs and symptoms associated with food allergies, detailing the three main categories of food allergies and their characteristics. In part two of this topic, we’ll explore several ways to prevent such allergies, focusing primarily on childhood allergies and how breastfeeding may be a potential solution.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies
Flat lay composition of different products and wooden cubes with words Food Allergy on white marble table
Signs and symptoms will vary depending on the category, type, and severity of food allergy. There are, however, several common signs and symptoms that tend to be associated with food allergies.
No matter the category, type, or severity, the signs and symptoms of food allergies often present themselves almost immediately after ingestion of the food allergen itself. This, unlike other types of allergies, is a significant distinction of food allergies. This quality can significantly assist a clinician in making the diagnosis of some specific types of food allergy.
Although immediate symptoms are the most common presentation, in other particular types of food allergies, this doesn’t always occur. As will be discussed, non-IgE-mediated allergies can take days for any signs or symptoms to become evident.
The following are the most common signs and symptoms of the most prevalent food allergies, present in both children and adults alike:
Itchiness of the Skin, Eyes, or Mouth
Swelling of the Face or Mouth
Shortness of Breath
Nausea and Vomiting
In the most severe of circumstances, anaphylaxis can occur, characterized by a state of shock that can be life-threatening unless immediate emergent attention is received and medication administered, such as epinephrine or otherwise.
Woman scratching her neck, isolated on white
Three Categories of Food Allergies
The discussion of categories of food allergies refers to the subtypes under the main types of food allergies. The categories are distinguished by the causes, length of time of the allergy, and specific symptoms.
Category 1 food allergies are caused by an immune system response that produces antibodies against specific proteins found in specific foods. These antibodies attack the proteins in the food and cause a cascade of responses that cause inflammation in the body and result in symptoms such as hives, eczema, asthma attacks, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, and joint pain.
This first category of food allergy usually presents itself in individuals between 6 months and 5 years of age. The most common foods involved in IgE-Mediated food allergies include cow’s milk, egg whites, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and corn.
Non-IgE-Mediated (Cat. 2)
Unlike IgE-Mediated food allergies, category 2 food allergies involve a reaction that doesn’t involve the presence of antibodies.
Non-IgE-Mediated food allergies are typically associated with delayed hypersensitivity responses. Such responses can include contact dermatitis, urticaria, angioedema, rhino-conjunctivitis, oral allergic syndrome, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, and anaphylaxis.
Symptoms involved in Cat. 2 food allergies typically appear within minutes to just a few hours after eating the particular food. The most common foods involved with category 2 food allergies include fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, chocolate, citrus fruit, tomatoes, garlic, onions, strawberries, celery, nuts, shellfish, and alcohol.
Mixed (IgE and Non-IgE)
Food allergies that involve a combination of mediators are known as IgE-Mediated and Non-IgE-Mediated responses. An individual who develops a food allergy that has aspects that are mediated by antibodies and aspects that are not caused by antibodies is in this category.
Whichever category or type in question, it’s approximated that 10% of the world’s population lives with some form of food allergy. If this population of individuals is limited to the United States, it’s estimated that 5% of children and 4% of adults live with one or more food allergies. Of these, 20% are said to be severe allergies.
According to the National Institute of Health, 30,000 fatalities occur yearly due to food-borne allergies.
During the suspicion of any type or category of food allergy, whether mild or severe, it’s important to avoid exposure to the suspected food until a proper diagnosis has been made by a medical professional.
Should a mild reaction occur before reaching a doctor, antihistamines are the first recommended treatment. However, emergent medical attention is required when a more severe reaction occurs.
About 50 million people in the United States annually suffer from the effects and symptoms of allergies. Of those 50 million, 10% or more are food allergies (6% of children and 4% of adults).
Ranging in category, type, and severity, food allergies are among the most common type of allergy, prevalent in both children and adults. Food allergies can also develop over time, meaning that individuals will later develop an allergy that never previously impacted their health.
Because of the prevalence and potentially life-threatening consequences of food allergies, it’s important to review and implement the most effective and research-backed preventative measures.
In what follows, we’ll be exploring some of the possible ways to prevent food-borne allergies, particularly in children, but also relevant to adults.
Prevention of Food Allergies
In order to prevent food allergies, it’s important to consider research on the subject. While some of the following proposed preventative strategies can transfer to both children and adults, the initial focus will be placed on the development of childhood allergies.
The following are 4 possible preventative mechanisms regarding the development of food allergies, particularly during childhood.
Breastfeeding and Food Allergies
The first thing to consider when seeking possible ways to protect an infant from the risk of food allergies is whether or not the child is breastfed or formula fed. While both have their pros and cons as it relates to the general health and development of the child, it has become a popular opinion that breastfeeding may be helpful in reducing the risk of developing food allergies.
Breastmilk has been shown to have protective immune qualities. For example, breastmilk immunoglobulins help protect babies from infection, illness, and long-term disease. Infants who are breastfed are less susceptible to respiratory tract infections, ear infections, urinary tract infections, as well as diabetes, asthma, and general stomach viruses. In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of gastrointestinal infections such as rotavirus and giardia lamblia.
Although the benefits of breastfeeding are clear, studies have not definitively demonstrated a causal relationship between breastfeeding and decreased incidence of food allergies in children. While the benefits of breastmilk are widespread and promising, more research on the benefits of breastfeeding as a preventative mechanism for food allergy development needs to be done to determine a conclusive relationship.
Avoid Common Food Allergens Altogether
If bottle-feeding is the method of choice during the initial months of an infant’s life, it’s important to remain consistent with this method, at least for the first four months, but ideally for six months or more. Studies have suggested that introducing solid food before six months of age increases the risk of developing food sensitivities and potential allergies later in life.
Some of the most common solid foods that can potentially cause immune responses are certain meats, cheeses, sauces, gravies, salad dressings, pickles, olives, packaged goods such as cookies and chips, and even raw meats such as liver and kidney. With this knowledge, parents can decide if they wish to avoid these foods or introduce them with caution.
Ensuring that a child’s diet consists of plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamins D and C will help the prevention of food allergy development. Vitamin D helps to decrease the immune response and can help decrease the likelihood of the development of an immune reaction to foods.
Research shows that infants who receive adequate amounts of vitamin D early in life have a reduced risk of developing food allergies later in life. Vitamin D also plays a role in maintaining healthy gut flora and preventing intestinal infections.
Limit Caffeine Consumption
Finally, consider limiting caffeine consumption, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding. Caffeine has been shown to affect the central nervous system, thus leading to the development of complications such as anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.
As it relates to allergies, caffeine contains naturally high levels of histamines, which is a strong mediator in the immune response. Higher levels could be correlated with higher response activity.
In one study, it was suggested that caffeine intake during pregnancy may have an influence on a child’s development of food allergies later in life.
If you suspect that your child is suffering from a food allergy, consult with your pediatrician immediately. They will likely recommend eliminating all suspected foods from your child’s diet for a period of time. Once the problem resolves, reintroduce foods slowly to determine what foods trigger reactions.
The best way to approach preventing food allergies in children is to be proactive. Some research on food allergies has revealed some possibilities, such as breastfeeding, good nutrition, and avoiding certain substances. Additional research will hopefully improve the knowledge in the area of food allergy prevention.
You’ve experienced the benefits of juicing, and now you’d like to share your knowledge with your family members.
Now is the perfect time to get everyone on board with this amazing way of consuming more fruits and vegetables than ever before.
Juicing for the entire family is as easy as A, B, C, and lots of greens. Here are some things to keep in mind when getting your family involved in juicing:
Make it fun!
Juicing will be more enjoyable and productive if your family members have fun while doing it. So make it an activity that everyone can enjoy… one that allows for creativity and the chance to get creative.
Consider making it a family event. Gather everyone in the kitchen, set up a few stations, and get everyone involved either in juicing or in the other parts of the process (such as washing and chopping).
If you do this as a group, juicing will feel more like a fun family activity and less like a chore. If you have children, involve them in the process of making the juice. Have them help select their favorite fruits and vegetables, and let them create their own concoctions.
Be sure to include them in the discussion of how many glasses everyone in the family should drink each day. It’s also a good idea to have your kids help clean up after the juicing event.
Choose the best fruits and veggies for your family
There’s no sense in making your family juice if the ingredients aren’t appealing to them or will help in their goals.
What are your family members’ health concerns?
What are their likes and dislikes?
What are their favorite fruits and vegetables?
These are all important questions to ask as you begin choosing the ingredients for your family’s juices.
Don’t forget to add some greens!
If one or more members of your family have health concerns such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or cancer, you may want to focus on adding ingredients that will address those issues.
For example, apples are high in quercetin, a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent cancer. Or add beets to the juicer to help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Limes also can help lower blood pressure.
Likes and dislikes
What are your family members’ favorite fruits and vegetables? If you know that your child loves strawberries, use those in his or her juice.
If your spouse always adds carrots to his or her salads, include carrots in their juice. If your family members’ favorite fruit is watermelon, go for it.
Watermelon is a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart, prostate health, and possibly fighting certain cancers.
The benefits of juicing for the entire family
Juicing is a great way for the entire family to consume more fruits and vegetables. According to the National Health Interview Survey, only about 12% of Americans meet the recommended daily intake of two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables.
Juicing is a fast and easy way to solve this problem. Juicing is also a good option if your family doesn’t like to eat many greens. At least with juicing, they’ll get some of what they need.
Juicing is also a great way to get kids involved in their own health. When they create their own groovy concoctions, they’ll be excited to drink them.
Plus, the added bonus of drinking more fruits and vegetables is that you and your family members will likely feel better. You’ll likely have more energy, fewer aches and pains, and improved digestion.
Tips for getting your family involved in juicing
Find a juicer that works for your family. Not all juicers are created equal. If you have a lot of people to juice for (and possibly a few little ones), you’ll probably want to go with a larger model.
A good rule of thumb is that you’ll probably want a model that can handle about one and a half times the amount of what you expect to juice on a regular basis.
Keep it simple. When your family first starts juicing, don’t try adding a bunch of new and different ingredients to the mix.
Start with the basics: add a few pieces of fruit and a few pieces of vegetables to the juicer. Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce are great additions to any juice. You can also add parsley, mint, or watercress for a little extra “oomph” in your juice.
Juicing is a great way to consume more fruits and vegetables. Not only is it quick and easy, but it also allows you to get more nutrients from each serving. It’s also a great way to get your kids involved in their own health. When they create their own juicing concoctions, they’ll be excited to drink them and you’ll likely notice a few benefits, too.
If you’ve been thinking about adding juicing to your diet, now is the perfect time to start. Get the whole family involved and make juicing a part of your everyday routine.
When you are trying to lose weight or eat more healthily, juicing and blending may seem like two pretty similar options. Both involve using a manual device to process your fruits and vegetables so that they have fewer calories and can be easily digested by your body.
The main difference is that with blending, your fruits and veggies stay in their natural state, while with juicing, the pulp is removed from the juice. So which one is better?
Both juicing and blending are great for helping you get more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are also easier than eating them whole, but one is probably slightly better for you than the other.
To help you make the best choice for your body, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about juicing vs. blending your food below:
What’s the difference between juicing and blending?
Although they’re both widely used to help people eat healthier and lead healthier lifestyles, there are a few key differences between juicing and blending your food:
Blending: Blending is the process of chopping up fruits and veggies and mixing them together into a smoothie-like consistency. There are no traces of the pulp. Everything is mixed together into one drink. Blending is a great way to sneak more fruits and veggies into your diet if you don’t like chewing them.
It also makes it easier for your body to process the nutrients since it’s all mixed together in one drink. Blending is also great for people who are juicing to treat a medical condition like anemia or iron deficiency.
Juicing: Juicing is the process of removing the pulp from fruits and vegetables and then drinking the juice. The fibrous pulp is left behind, making it less nutritious than blending (though it does contain some of the skin’s minerals and vitamins).
Juicing is a great way to get a concentrated dose of vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. Juicing is also a great option if you’re juicing to treat a medical condition such as kidney stones or gout.
Juicing vs. Blending: The nutrients
There are a few key differences when it comes to nutrients when comparing juicing to blending.
Blending: Blending fruits and veggies together helps your body more easily absorb their nutrients. This is because blending breaks down the cell walls that contain the nutrients, making them easier for your body to digest and use.
Juicing: Juicing, on the other hand, actually removes these nutritious parts of fruits and veggies. This is because the pulp is left behind in the juice, while the nutrients are extracted and then kept in the juice.
This means that juicing actually has fewer nutrients than blending. However, juicing does have one major advantage over blending: it usually results in more vitamins A and C. These are fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for your body to function properly. Juicing also makes it easier and faster to consume.
Juicing vs. Blending: The weight loss benefits
Blending: Blending is great for helping you lose weight because it boosts your metabolism. The more you blend fruits and veggies, the more energy your body uses up at a cellular level.
Blending is also helpful for those who are counting calories. Because you’re mixing all of the fruit or veggies together, the calories from different ingredients are averaged out.
Juicing: Juicing has been proven to help you lose weight as well — but not as much as blending. Blending breaks down the cell walls of the fruits and veggies, releasing the nutrients your body needs.
This boosts your metabolism, which in turn helps your body burn more calories. Juicing, however, doesn’t break down the cell walls, so your body can’t absorb the nutrients as easily. Because of this, juicing is less helpful for weight loss than blending.
Juicing vs. Blending: The taste
Blending: Blending is great for getting more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet and boosting your metabolism, but it’s not so great for the taste. Since you’re mixing everything together, it can make it hard to tell what you’re actually drinking.
Juicing: Juicing is like taking a step towards flavor perfection. You can use a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables to create a personalized juice that’s perfect for your taste buds.
Blending: If you don’t like the taste of vegetables or prefer fruity flavors, juicing is definitely the better option for you. Juicing doesn’t taste like vegetables at all, but blending can taste a bit like grass if the ratio of vegetables is too high. Blending is also great for people who don’t like chewing fruits and veggies — it makes it easier.
Juicing vs. Blending: The final verdict
Juicing is a great way to get a concentrated dose of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. It also helps you lose weight because it boosts your metabolism.
Blending is great for getting more vitamins and minerals into your diet as well. It is also helpful for weight loss, but not as much as juicing. Blending is also great because it’s easier than juicing, and it’s cheaper (especially if you don’t own a juicer).
Both juicing and blending are great for helping you get more raw fruits and veggies in your diet. They are also easier than eating them whole — but one is probably slightly better for you than the other.