Histamine – the culprit of allergy symptoms

by Anna

When our body comes into contact with an allergen, we become aware of it after a while. This happens in various ways: hives appear on the skin, the eyes burn and tear, the nose runs. How does our body know when it has encountered something that sensitises it? Is there any way to stop allergy symptoms from developing?

When an allergic reaction occurs, histamine receptors are stimulated. Contact with the allergen causes histamine to be released from certain human immune cells, irritating the mucous membranes of the intestines, respiratory tract or skin.

The effect of histamine receptor stimulation is:

  • an increase in vascular permeability, resulting in skin lesions,
  • vasodilation of blood vessels, resulting in redness,
  • a drop in blood pressure,
  • bronchial smooth muscle spasm characteristic of asthma,
  • spasm of the muscles of the digestive tract,
  • acceleration of the pulse, increase in heart rate,
  • secretion of digestive juices in the stomach.

Histamine secreted in large quantities into the subcutaneous tissue irritates the nerve endings, causing itching and pain. To get rid of persistent allergy symptoms, antihistamines are used to displace histamine from its receptor connections. These include:

1st generation antihistamines – penetrate the central nervous system, causing drowsiness, dementia and inhibition of reflexes. They have sedative, antiemetic and anaesthetic effects. They are effective against local allergy symptoms. Have a weak effect on allergic lesions of mucous membranes.

2nd generation antihistamines – do not cause adverse effects characteristic of 1st generation drugs. They are long-acting – up to 24-26 hours with regular administration.

Unfortunately, there is no other way to deal with allergy symptoms than to take medication. Remember that if over-the-counter preparations do not help, it is worth seeing an allergologist. He or she should carry out tests and select the appropriate medication. If you know what allergen causes your symptoms, you can try to avoid it, but as you know, this is not always possible.

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