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10 Most Common Cause of Allergies and Their Triggers

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Most Common Causes of Allergies and Their Triggers
Most Common Causes of Allergies and Their Triggers

An allergic reaction is the immune system's natural protective mechanism when the body is exposed to a foreign substance. However, allergens appear in excess, causing disturbing symptoms.

What exactly is causing the overreaction? Then, who is more prone to allergies? Check out the full review below. 

What Causes Allergies? 

Allergies appear as an abnormal reaction of the immune system against foreign substances that are basically harmless. Under normal conditions, the immune system should be able to distinguish which substances are safe and which are really harmful to the body.

The immune system will only actively work against foreign substances that cause disease or damage. For example, an immunogenic reaction is needed to fight pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi) or chemical irritants.

Likewise, when you eat something or inhale pollen from the environment, the immune system does not react negatively because food has the nutrients the body needs, while pollen does not have any impact on health. 

The immune system of people with allergies is different 

The immune system of allergy sufferers does not work as described above. Their immune cells are unable, mistaken, or confused about which substances are safe and which are harmful. Their bodies automatically recognize ordinary substances as a threat.

Substances that have the potential to cause allergies are called allergens. When allergens enter the body, the immune system will form immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. Antibodies are special proteins that function against foreign substances in the body. 

Apart from IgE, certain allergic reactions sometimes also involve other components of the immune system, such as:

  • Immunoglobulin M or G (IgM or IgG),
  • Other antigen-antibody bonds,
  • T-lymphocytes,
  • Eosinophil cells, basophils, and mast cells, as well
  • Natural killer (NK)cells. 

Each component of the immune system carries out its respective functions. When allergens enter the body, T lymphocytes are tasked with recognizing and remembering them. This mechanism is used in case one day you are exposed to the same allergen.

Meanwhile, the antibodies will look for substances that cause allergies and destroy them. During this mechanism, the release of IgE antibodies also carries histamine and other chemicals that can trigger allergy symptoms.

Histamine can cause effects on several body systems at once, ranging from lowering blood pressure, triggering itching, to causing cold symptoms. This is why the symptoms and severity of allergies can vary from person to person. 

Who Is Most At Risk Of Developing Allergies? 

Allergies are a very common health problem. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 40% of the world's population has a characteristic allergy, namely the sensitivity of IgE antibodies to certain foreign substances from the environment. 

Health professionals may understand the mechanism of allergies. However, they do not fully understand why the immune system can react differently to certain substances.

However, your chances of getting allergies will increase if you have one or more of the risk factors below. 

1. Have a Family History of Allergies 

Most cases of allergies are genetic. That is, this condition runs in the family. If your parents have allergy genes, these genes can be passed on to you or your siblings to cause the same condition.

However, just because you, your partner, or your child has allergies doesn't mean that all of your offspring will have them. Some people may even develop allergies even though there is no family history of this condition.

Until now, doctors and experts are still figuring out what genes are responsible for causing allergies. Since each allergy is so unique, there may be other factors in your genetics that influence your risk. 

2. Too Rarely Exposed To Allergens 

According to a study in the United States, the risk of allergies can increase if since childhood you are accustomed to living too clean. The reason is, the immune system does not have time to recognize various allergens from the surrounding environment.

Allergen exposure from childhood can actually be useful for the development of your immune system. That way, immune cells are able to distinguish which foreign substances must be resisted, which are beneficial, and which are not harmful to the body.

Introducing allergens early does not make children immune to allergies. However, this is the best way to strengthen the body's immune system naturally. This method will also help you identify allergy triggers as early as possible. 

3. Restricted Eating Certain Foods 

If your parents aren't allowed to eat certain foods since childhood, this can cause allergies later in life. Food is the same as other allergens that need to be introduced early so that the immune system does not overreact.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends parents make a varied diet to prevent allergies as adults. What's more, foods that trigger allergies like nuts, eggs, and fish are basically beneficial for children.

Food allergies generally occur because the immune system mistakenly recognizes proteins as foreign substances. Therefore, getting used to eating varied foods from an early age is the best way to introduce protein as a useful substance. 

4. Living in a Dry Home Environment 

Air humidity has a big impact on the respiratory system. Air that is sufficiently humid helps you breathe better. This condition is suitable for people with asthma or allergies who often experience disorders of the respiratory system.

However, air that is too humid can actually trigger the growth of mold and dust mites. Dust mites produce enzymes and waste substances that can cause allergies in some people when inhaled.

Therefore, as much as possible keep the air in the house controlled so that it is not too dry or humid. You can use a humidifier to keep the humidity in the 30-50 percent range.

5. Often Exposed To Allergens from the Work Environment 

Certain occupations may make you more likely to be exposed to allergens. If you spend years working in that place, exposure to allergens from your work environment can be a cause of allergies.

Allergy triggers that are often found in the workplace include wood dust, air pollution, chemicals, and mites from storage. You may also be exposed to latex, animal waste, hair dye, or other allergens. 

Is It Possible That New Allergies Appear As Adults? 

Allergies usually appear in childhood, when you are first 'acquainted' with a certain substance or food through skin contact, direct consumption, or inhaled into the respiratory tract.

Some experts suspect that developing allergies in adulthood could be linked to an increase in air pollutants and germs in the air. Exposure to both, especially in the long term, can affect endurance.

It does not rule out that most adults who experience allergies for the first time at this age actually have a history of allergies in children since childhood. It's just that, they don't remember it. 

Childhood allergic reactions may also subside or disappear during adolescence, then come back as adults. This may be due to the natural aging process which can affect the body's resistance over time. 

Other factors that may be the reason why new allergies appear as adults are below.

  • Decreased body resistance due to disease.
  • Frequent consumption of antibiotics.
  • Lack of bacterial population in the gut.
  • Lack of vitamin D intake.
  • Have seasonal allergies or allergies triggered by foods you have never tried.
  • Have a new pet.
  • Traveling far or moving to a much different environment. 

Allergy Triggers Around You 

Substances that cause allergic reactions can appear in many forms, from cold air, clothing and jewelry, to foods that many people eat. Of the many allergens, below are the most common. 

1. Mites

Mites are one of the main causes of allergies. These insects feed on the dead skin cells that you shed every day. Therefore, mites are found on mattresses, sheets, pillows and bolsters, and even your baby's doll collection.

Mites produce waste substances that float in the air. If you inhale this waste substance, the immune system will perceive it as a danger and release antibodies to destroy it. At the same time, this reaction gives rise to allergic symptoms. 

2. Dust

Household dust may contain insect droppings, pollen, mold spores, or other substances that are allergens. When you inhale or touch them, they can trigger an immune system reaction and cause a dust allergy. 

3. Lichens and fungi

Lichens and mold do best in dark, wet, and damp places. The areas of the house that most support growth for both are bathrooms, storerooms, and corners that are frequently exposed to water leaks.

When they are about to reproduce, moss and fungi will release millions of tiny spores. These spores fly through the air and are not visible. Like dust, mold spores can trigger an allergic reaction when large amounts are inhaled. 

4. Pets

The cause of allergies sometimes comes from pets. Dogs and cats shed their hair as a way of adapting. The shedding usually contains protein from saliva or urine which can provoke an allergic reaction if inhaled.

The foreign substances in your pet's hair, saliva, and urine are so light they can float in the air or stick to furniture for months. If not cleaned, these substances can cause a more severe animal allergy.

5. Nuts

All kinds of nuts and processed foods can provoke an exaggerated immune system response. Some examples of types of nuts that are prone to trigger allergies include peanuts, soybeans, almonds, cashews, macadamia, or pistachios.

If you are diagnosed with an allergy to one type of peanut, chances are you should also avoid other types of nuts. The reason is, even though the bean species are different (one peanut and one tree nut), the protein structure remains the same. 

6. Seafood

Seafood such as shrimp, shellfish, crab, and scaly fish (snapper, salmon, tuna, or halibut) can cause allergies in some people. Seafood allergies are more common in adults and adolescents.

Seafood allergies arise because the immune system tries to attack a protein called tropomyosin. Other proteins in seafood that may play a role in triggering negative immune reactions are arginine kinase and myosin light chain.

7. Eggs

Eggs are one of the foods that most often cause allergic reactions in children. The main 'puppeteer' is the white part of the egg which contains more protein than the yolk.

Even so, those of you who are allergic to eggs should still avoid consuming eggs in any form. This is because, with efforts to separate the white and yolk, there is still a possibility that the protein from the white part is mixed with egg yolk. 

8. Cow's milk

Fresh cow's milk and its products such as cream, cheese, butter, and ice cream can cause allergic reactions. Milk allergy occurs when the body's immune system recognizes the protein contained in milk as a dangerous substance.

The immune system secretes immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize milk proteins. The next time you come in contact with the protein, IgE antibodies will recognize it and signal the immune system to release an allergic reaction.

9. Certain drugs

Drug allergies are caused by the immune system's reaction to chemicals in drugs. Immune cells mistakenly recognize the chemical as dangerous and attack it by releasing antibodies and histamine. 

According to the researchers, allergy symptoms tend to arise more frequently as a result of using the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics, especially penicillin,
  • Aspirin and non-steroidal pain relievers,
  • Corticosteroid cream or lotion,
  • Chemotherapy Drugs,
  • HIV / AIDS drugs,
  • Local anesthetic,
  • Medicines for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatism drugs,
  • Medicines to relieve chronic pain,
  • Medicinal products / supplements/vitamins containing bee pollen, and
  • A dye used for imaging tests (MRI or CT- scan). 

10. Stress

Stress has a psychological effect on allergy sufferers. Stress amplifies allergy symptoms, making you even more irritated by them. When you are stressed, your body also feels bad even though you are actually doing well.

In addition, stress also causes physical symptoms. Experts believe that the hormone cortisol, which is increased during stress, helps increase the immune system's reaction to allergens. As a result, the allergic reaction you are experiencing feels worse than usual.

Basically, the main cause of allergies is the immune system's excessive response to foreign substances that enter the body. Not everyone has allergies, but there are a number of factors that can increase the risk.

Although the cause is the same, allergen triggers are very diverse. In fact, you may be exposed to environmental allergens without realizing it.

If one or more of these allergens start to trigger symptoms, it's a good idea to visit your doctor for the best solution.


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