Allergy: Disease & Symptoms – Part 2

Symptoms of Allergic Disease

A variety of symptoms can result from IgE-mediated hypersensitivity and resultant exposure to histamine and other mediators. The most common are allergic rhinitis and allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, or essentially, runny itchy noses and eyes. Symptoms include: sneezing, itching nose, eyes, ears and palate, rhinorrhea (runny nose), postnasal drip, congestion, the inability to perceive odors, headache, earache, tearing, red eyes, eye swelling, fatigue, drowsiness, and a general feeling of being unwell.

While not generally considered serious, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is very common, and causes much discomfort, as well as loss of work time and absenteeism. In addition, complications can occur such as the following: acute or chronic sinusitis, middle ear infection, sleep disturbance, dental problems caused by excessive mouth breathing, and others.

Asthma
Also common is asthma, in which the chemicals released from sensitized mast cells induce airway inflammation resulting in intermittent airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. These reactions make breathing difficult and cause coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. For a more detailed description of this illness, see What Is Asthma?

The lungs of asthmatics are also stimulated to produce excessive mucous, which can be colonized by fungi causing the disease allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common cause of this disease, and the syndrome is then called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. For more information, see Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis.

Eczema
Atopic dermatitis (the most common type of eczema) is, at least in part, an allergic response in which allergen exposure leads to extremely itchy inflamed skin. The disease is not contagious, but is uncomfortable and difficult to treat. Allergen avoidance is effective if the offending allergens are known. Chronic atopic dermatitis can lead to skin infections. The complete causation for this disease is still under investigation. For more information, see Atopic Dermatitis.

Anaphylaxis
The most serious allergic response is anaphylaxis in which allergen exposure leads to systemic release of mast cell chemicals resulting in hives, swelling of mucous membranes, difficulty breathing (including wheezing), nausea, cramps, tachycardia, and many other symptoms. If not treated quickly, anaphylaxis can be fatal. The response is rarely attributed to inhalant antigens. Food and medication sensitivities are the most common causes. For more detailed information, see Anaphylaxis.

This is an extremely brief overview of the possible symptoms associated with allergen exposure and is provided strictly for educational purposes. It is not to be used for diagnosis of disease, or to attempt to associate allergens in the environment to specific symptoms. People complaining of these symptoms should be referred to a physician with experience in treating allergies.

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