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What Is An Allergy

ALLERGIC REACTIONS: HOW YOUR BODY RESPONDS TO HARMLESS SUBSTANCES

Allergy ˈalərjē/
highly sensitive reaction; error

An allergy or sensitivity is simply an error in the body. The word “allergy” comes from the Greek word for “other” because it’s a reaction that’s different from how most people would react.

Have you ever eaten something or been in contact with something that gave you some sort of negative reaction, even though it’s something that’s normally harmless to everyone else? That is most likely an allergy or a sensitivity! Basically, your body makes a mistake and perceives something as harmful or even dangerous to you, even though it isn’t.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary depending on the type of allergen and the individual. Allergic reactions can affect different parts of the body such as the skin, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and sinuses. Symptoms can range from mild, such as itching and a runny nose, to severe and life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Common symptoms include skin rashes, hives, swelling, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, digestive issues, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Allopathic medical diagnosis of allergies is done through skin testing, blood tests, and/or a thorough medical history and physical examination. Traditional medical treatment for allergies includes avoiding allergens, (which can be very challenging) taking medications, (which can cause other reactions) and immunotherapy injections (which can be painful and time consuming).

THE OVERGENERALIZATION OF THE WORD “ALLERGY” CREATES A CATCH-ALL TERM FOR NEGATIVE REACTIONS

The word “allergy” has become a generic term to describe any negative reaction a person may have to something, even if it’s not a true allergy. But there are differences…

ALLERGIES: An allergy is a reaction by the body to foreign substances, known as antigens, that are usually harmless within the bodies of other people. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their immune system overreacts and produces specific antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which attach to the allergen. These antibodies then stimulate the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. Allergens can come from various sources such as pollen, pet dander, bee venom, certain foods, medications, and chemicals. Typical allergy symptoms can be sneezing, asthma, congestion, runny nose, digestive symptoms, skin issues, etc. A TRUE allergy engages the immune system, with an Ig reaction.

SENSITIVITIES: A sensitivity is a reaction in which a person reacts negatively to certain foods, stimuli, or environmental factors, resulting in some of the same reactions as a TRUE allergy, including discomfort, pain, or other symptoms. This can include reactions to things like noise, light, temperature, touch, weather changes, environmental factors, seasonal items, pets, or foods. Some people may have a heightened sensitivity to only one of these factors, while others may experience multiple sensitivities. It is important to note that sensitivities are different from allergies, as they do NOT engage the immune system so no Ig’s are produced by the body. Nevertheless, the symptoms can be the same.

INTOLERANCES: A food intolerance is a condition in which a person has difficulty digesting certain foods, which can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Unlike a food allergy, which involves the immune system reacting to a specific food protein, or a sensitivity where no immune involvement is present, a food intolerance usually does not involve the immune system and is instead caused by a lack of enzymes or other digestive factors needed to properly break down certain foods. An example would be:

Lactose intolerance – this happens when the body doesn’t make enough of the lactase enzyme to properly break down the lactose (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products).

Symptoms of a food intolerance can include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain, and can range from mild to severe. While a food intolerance is not life-threatening, it can still significantly impact a person’s quality of life and can require dietary changes to manage.

The different terms can be confusing since many people don’t realize that there are different types of reactions that could be causing their symptoms. As a result, the word “allergy” has become a catch-all term for any kind of negative reaction to something that’s normally harmless.

Advanced Allergy Therapeutics treats the symptoms caused by any negative or inappropriate reaction regardless of if the symptoms are caused by allergies or sensitivities. However, AAT does not treat intolerances, since they are not errors, but a deficiency in the body.

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