Allergies can be mysterious. They’re often triggered by seemingly harmless substances, such as food, dust, pollen, and medications. People who have specific allergies can’t simply explain the origins of their conditions, just that their bodies are extremely sensitive to certain substances.
And despite the unpleasant reactions caused by allergies, some people still downplay them, believing that they’ll build tolerance over time without undergoing medical treatments. But are allergies really curable in the first place?
Allergies develop when a person’s immune system overreacts to a certain substance that is usually harmless. But reactions don’t often occur or show up until the immune system builds up a sensitivity to that substance. It’ll take time for the immune system to remember and recognize a specific substance as an allergen.
Once it does, a process called sensitization will follow, wherein antibodies are formed to fight off the allergen. This causes allergic symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, itching, watery eyes, and others.
Allergies affect people all ages, races, genders, and social classes. But those who have a family history of allergies have an increased risk of developing one as well.
- Dust and pollen — usually cause congested airways, itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, coughs, and runny nose.
- Food — can cause vomiting, a swollen tongue, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, to name a few.
- Insect stings — can cause swelling on the affected area, itchiness, hives, and shortness of breath, to name a few.
- Medication — can cause rashes, swelling on the tongue, lips, and face, wheezing, and itchiness.
Can People Build Tolerance Over Time?
If you’re allergic to something, especially food, you may have encountered people who believe that you’ll eventually overcome your allergies by just repeatedly consuming the food you’re allergic to. You yourself might even share the same belief.
According to a study, this is can be true, though experts still advise against increasing your exposure to allergens. People may build tolerance over time, but only in highly controlled circumstances, and with the guidance of a skilled allergist.
Another common myth about allergies is that it can be cured if you relocate to a place with a dry climate. For people allergic to dust mites, this can be true, but it doesn’t mean that their allergies will automatically be gone. Their immune systems may still overreact to pollinating seasonal plants, allergy-triggering cockroaches, and pet dander.
If you take allergy medications, you might also believe that you’ll build tolerance to it in time. Unfortunately, this is entirely false. If your medications have stopped working, it’s not because you’ve become immune to it, but rather because of other factors, like moving to a different environment, or changing seasons. You only have to take a stronger antihistamine, with the approval of your doctor.
The only way tolerance can be built is when you had the allergy as a child. This isn’t true for all people, though. Only some experience less allergic symptoms as they get older, but to those with severe reactions, their allergy may remain as strong for the rest of their lives.
Can It Develop into a Serious Disease?
Yes, allergies can trigger life-threatening reactions. Such is called anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis. It is a sudden drop in blood pressure, and the swelling of body tissues, including that of the throat. Below are the other common symptoms:
- Itchiness and hives
- Abnormal heart rate
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Tightness in the throat
- Pain or cramps
- Loss of consciousness
Each person may experience these symptoms differently, but even if you don’t feel anything seemingly life-threatening yet, it’s still advised to consult a doctor as soon as you experience reactions. Never risk your health or life by trying to test if you’ll become tolerant by continually exposing yourself to your allergic triggers.