If you’re always breaking out in hives with itchiness of the skin and red, raised welts or if you always develop a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and shortness of breath, then you just might be suffering from an allergic reaction. Finding out the causes of common allergies can help you determine what might be going on with you.
Allergies are very common and affect a huge percentage of the world’s population. While most allergies are easily treated with over-the-counter antihistamine drugs and avoidance of the trigger, some patients need hospitalization for symptom control and to prevent anaphylactic shock.
If you don’t know what triggers your allergic symptoms, then you need to get tested. Allergy blood testing can help identify your triggers, so you know what to avoid to prevent an allergy attack.
Below are the most common allergies and first-aid treatment in case of an allergic reaction.
1. Skin Allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated number of 8.8 million American children has skin allergies. While skin allergies typically go away as the child grows, some children though carry this into their adulthood. Know what causes allergies can really help. The most common causes of skin allergies include nickel, gold, skin products containing neomycin sulfate or bacitracin, household products containing formaldehyde, perfumes, plants and dust mites.
2. Respiratory Allergies
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, hay fever affects about 17.6 million adults and 6.6 million children in the country. Hay fever can trigger asthma attacks and allergic rhinitis, sending thousands of patients to the hospital yearly. The most common causes of respiratory allergies include pollen, cigarette smoke, cockroaches, mold and mildew, pet dander, chemical fumes, and strong scents or odors.
3. Food Allergies
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, food allergies affect about 15 million Americans, including an estimated number of about 5.9 million children. About 30% of these children suffer from more than just one food allergy. The most common causes of food allergies include tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, and milk. Other causes of food allergies include wheat and soy.
4. Animal Allergies
According to the Humane Society of the United States, about 15% of the country’s population is allergic to cats or dogs. Other animals that cause allergies are rats, mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Insect bites and stings can also trigger an allergic attack, with bees, wasps, cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, and scorpions being the most common culprit. In pets, the most common cause of an allergic attack is dander or dead skin cells, while in rodents cause allergies through saliva and urine, in addition to dander. As for insects, it’s the venom from their sting or bite that causes the allergic reaction.
5. ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK and FIRST-AID TREATMENT
As mentioned earlier, an over-the-counter antihistamine drug can easily control an allergic reaction, but if the patient begins exhibiting symptoms of anaphylactic shock, it pays that you know the first-aid treatment for anaphylaxis.
These are the symptoms you need to watch out for in anaphylactic shock:
• Swelling of the whole face, including the throat
• Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath and wheezing)
• Nausea and vomiting
• Skin hives (itching, skin welts, red skin)
• Loss of consciousness
• Drop in blood pressure
• Weak or rapid pulse rate
If a person has these symptoms, you should:
• Call 911 immediately
• Give epinephrine as soon as possible if he has an epinephrine auto injector
• Have the patient lie down on his back and loosen his tight clothing to help improve his respiration
• Elevate his feet about 12 inches from the ground to improve circulation to the heart
• Cover him with a blanket to prevent chilling and preserve his body heat
• If he starts vomiting, turn him to his side so he doesn’t choke
• Wait for help to arrive.
Of note, do not give the patient any food or water as this can cause choking and further obstruct his airways.
If the patient stops breathing, you need to perform CPR immediately.
• Lie the patient on his back and place your hands over the middle of his chest.Your hands should be placed one on top of the other.
• With your elbows locked, push hard and fast on his chest, compressing it to about two inches deep.
• Do 100 chest compressions for every minute.
• Tilt the patient’s head back with his chin lifted up.
• Pinch his nose close and place your mouth over his to seal when you deliver rescue breaths.
• Blow air into his chest twice, checking that his chest rises after each rescue breath.
• Continue the cycle of chest compressions (100 times per minute) and rescue breaths (two rescue breaths) until the patient begins breathing again or until the paramedics arrive.
Even if the patient starts improving, you still need to bring him to the hospital for monitoring.
If you or someone you know is suffering from regular allergy attacks, it’s important to identify the triggers so they know what to avoid next time. Although most allergic reactions aren’t that fatal, some do need hospitalization, especially if anaphylaxis develops. Knowing what to do in case of a severe allergic reaction can help save a life.