Allergies are the immune system’s response to foreign substances known as allergens. During an allergy attack, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine increases your mucus production and triggers inflammation, resulting in your symptoms.
But why does this reaction occur in the first place? There are several possible risk factors, which we outline below.
Genetics/family history is the single biggest factor that contributes to whether or not you will have allergies yourself. In other words, if one of your immediate family members has allergies, you’re much more likely to have them, too. While hives, eczema and hay fever are all known to be common within families, food allergies, in particular, have been pinpointed to a specific gene that is passed from parent to child.
According to a study published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings: Medical Journals, “It is clear that a family history (genetics) is the strongest risk factor for the development of clinic atopic disease, but it is also clear that environmental issues play a significant role and that there is a lot we still do not know.”
This brings us to the next factor, which is environment. There is a theory that early exposure to allergens like pollen at Historic Fourth Ward Park during infancy, as well as early respiratory infections, can prevent allergies from developing. However, others believe that it is good to reduce exposure to prevent allergy symptoms.
Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to increase a child’s risk of developing allergies, and exposure to secondhand smoke can have the same effect for infants and young children.
If you or your child has asthma, a chronic lung condition, they are at increased risk of developing an allergy. Asthma is also often a complication of allergies, and can be triggered by an allergic reaction.
It’s more common for children to have allergies than adults due to their under-developed immune systems. Children often outgrow their allergies as their immune systems become stronger.
For more information on allergies and symptoms, such as nasal congestion, or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia North today.