How Does an Allergy Attack Happen?

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Allergy attacks are strange because they cannot be predicted most of the time. You may have taken walks in the woods or on a trail at your nearby state park with no allergy symptoms at all. Suddenly, you take a walk for the umpteenth time and you develop cold-like symptoms. This type of allergy is an environmental allergy.

Food allergies can also develop suddenly. Sometimes a child or adult eats a favorite food like peanut butter and suddenly develops peanut allergy symptoms.

Although environmental allergies can make you feel miserable, peanut allergies can be extremely dangerous or even life-threatening. Some of the symptoms of this food allergy include stuffy or runny nose, trouble breathing, wheezing, and tingling in the mouth and throat. A person allergic to peanuts may also have nausea, vomiting, and symptoms of anaphylaxis, a whole-body allergic reaction.

What happens during an allergy attack?

A person may eat a food that he or she has eaten for months or years, and suddenly the body reacts in a different way. People who have a peanut allergy have a reaction in their body to the protein in the peanut. When the allergic reaction begins, the white blood cells send a message to the body to make antibodies that attack the allergen, the substance causing the allergic reaction. Then, the antibodies begin their own reactions in the body by sending histamines to fight off the allergen.

Histamines go through the body to find areas that are affected by the allergen. They cause redness and inflammation that results in sneezing, coughing, or by starting a rash or hives on the skin. Rashes actually heat the skin and make it feel warm to the touch. The heat from the body kills the allergens.

Sneezing, a runny nose, and coughing are also attempts that the histamine makes to rid the body of the allergen. An antihistamine like non-drowsy Benadryl stops the production of histamine in the body.

Allergic responses differ around the world

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reported in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that peanut allergies are one of the most allergenic vegetable foods in the world. People in various parts of the world react differently when they are allergic to peanuts, though. The United States, Spain and Sweden were the geographic areas where allergic patients were studied.

Although those in the study all experienced peanut allergies, there were some differences. These were found to be related to various pollen exposures and eating habits in the countries. For instance, American children showed allergic reactions to peanuts by age one, while Swedish and Spanish test subjects did not have allergic reactions until age two or three. Scientists reasoned that American children tend to eat peanut butter early in life whereas children in Sweden and Spain do not eat it until they are older.

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