Allergies Genetics: Everything You Need to Know

Discover the regions and populations that contribute to your genetic predisposition to allergies with GenomeLink's Allergies Ancestry analysis. Get personalized reports based on your DNA and explore your ancestry composition.

Allergies Genetics: Everything You Need to Know

DNA tests are a useful way to learn more about yourself, your heritage, and your genetic makeup – and an allergy DNA test provides a granular examination into what might be disrupting your health and wellness.  Allergy genes testing gives you the insight you need to understand whether or not you have allergies, and if so, how impactful they might be on your daily quality of life. This is a great option for anyone who wants to explore their body and its possible intolerances a little deeper. But first: what is considered an “allergy,” anyway?

What are allergies?

Allergies genetics are the body’s intolerant reaction to substances or environments that are typically and objectively harmless. Ranging from mild to severe, allergies are increasingly common across the nation: they affect over 50 million people in the United States alone, and they’re also the country’s sixth-leading cause of chronic illness. This is why so many Americans have undergone allergy genes testing - to understand if they are at risk. Having an allergy means you’ll…well, allergically react to the things your body is intolerant to: like something you ate, inhaled, injected into your body, or touched. Allergic reactions can range from coughing and sneezing to going into anaphylactic shock – and the same allergy can affect two people very differently.  Although we now have the ability to conduct allergy genes testing, we do not, unfortunately, have a cure for allergies. However, there are a few different plans for prevention and treatment you can look into that might help ease your symptoms – and the frequency at which you experience them. You can also learn more about the allergies that might affect your daily life by taking an allergy DNA test

Most common types of allergies to suffer from

There is a massive number of recognized allergies, and as we mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to tell how severely one intolerance might affect two different people. An allergy DNA test will help provide you with insights into your body and what it can and cannot tolerate – but in the meantime, let’s explore some of the most common types of allergies people tend to suffer from.

  • Asthma

Affecting about 25 million people throughout the country, allergic asthma is a breathing condition born from lung swelling and inflammation. This type of allergies genetics occurs because of a person’s exposure to the things they are intolerant to: airborne irritants like pollution, pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or dander. A person with asthma will have over-sensitive lung airways, which means their lungs are more likely to inflame than the average person’s, rendering it difficult for them to breathe. Asthma symptoms look like shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, or wheezing – and these symptoms can vary depending on the person, the environment, the time of day, the season, and other factors. As with any allergy or allergic reaction, asthma has no cure, but there are quite a few treatment plans available for sufferers of this particular type of allergies genetics, like: medication, long-acting relievers, receptor antagonists, or inhalers. If you find yourself having an asthma attack, make sure you run through the following checklist:

  • Sit upright
  • Loosen any tight clothing
  • Immediately utilize your reliever inhaler, and continue taking one puff every minute for five minutes until symptoms subside
  • If symptoms do not subside after five minutes, call an ambulance

  • Drug Allergies

Anyone who’s watched a commercial for a prescription drug is familiar with the speedy disclaimers that shoot possible unsavory side-effects at viewers like verbally-automated bullets. Buried in these auctioneer-like monologues is the possibility of the drug user having a negative reaction to the product: a.k.a., a result of allergies genetics. Common allergies to drugs will result in skin rashes or hives, and in some cases, the sufferer might be encouraged to continue taking the offending drug – especially if those negative side effects still positively outweigh whatever outcome the drug is fighting against. Thankfully, most drug allergies are easily predictable, and even more so if you’ve had an allergy DNA test done and know exactly where your risk might lie. If you think you might be suffering from a drug allergy reaction, keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in any part of the body
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Widespread, itchy rash
  • Wheezing
  • Low blood pressure

  • Food Allergies

Food allergies genetics or food intolerance are pretty common – and can come and go and change over time in individuals. First, you’ll want to know the distinction between a food allergy and a food intolerance. A food allergy is defined by any negative reaction to food that involves the immune system, while all other adverse reactions to food are categorized as intolerances. About 6-8 percent of children and 4 percent of adults suffer from food allergies genetics, and this can look very different. While some food allergies can result in some bloating or an itchy mouth, others can land you in the hospital with your life in imminent danger. As we mentioned, there’s a wide variety of food allergies that people are capable of developing, but the most common foods to cause allergies are: eggs, milk, peanuts, sesame seeds, kiwi, fish, shellfish, soy, and tree nuts. An allergy DNA test can help you determine which ones you might have. All of these foods – with the exception of kiwi – are required to be labeled if they’re included in a dish or recipe, however trace the amount. And for food intolerances, milk and wheat are the likeliest of culprits. 

Food allergies symptoms range widely, and can look like any of the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Itchy skin, rashes, or hives
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or lips
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unusually hoarse voice
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion 
  • Swollen lung airways 

  • Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is a common form of allergies genetics. It can look like a runny nose, excessive sneezing, or nasal blockage. They can either be seasonal (like during the transition from winter to spring) or year-round – but year-round rhinitis is more likely to be from the effects of indoor allergens like dust, mold spores, or the fur of cats or dogs. Those who suffer from rhinitis are more susceptible to developing asthma down the line, but despite this risk, a lot of people don’t take this type of allergy seriously. Since its symptoms tend to be mild, it often goes ignored by the sufferer and/or their loved ones, but even these seemingly-mild effects can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life. Having rhinitis can make sleeping through the night difficult – and not getting enough sleep can negatively affect your mood, your immune system’s strength, or your daily performance at school or work. With no cure to rhinitis, avoiding these symptoms and their effects isn’t easy, but there are a few ways to reduce its impact:

  • Change your environment
  • Keep your environment exceptionally clean and free of dust or mold
  • Utilize antihistamines – particularly if your symptoms are that of hay fever
  • Desensitization immunotherapy
  • Nasal surgery

  • Skin Allergies

Allergy genes testing might reveal that you have skin allergies: a.k.a., rashes, welts, hives, or eczema. Unfortunately skin allergies can be difficult to detect because bumps, redness, and itchiness are somewhat common and can be a result of a variety of other effects – and that’s all the more reason to pursue allergy genes testing so you can be sure.

Varying in severity, some of the most common causes of skin allergic reactions include:

  • Plants
  • Insects and bugs
  • Latex
  • Metal
  • The sun
  • Cosmetics
  • Clothing materials
  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Sunscreens, lotions, or moisturizers
  • Hair dye
  • Perfumes or colognes
  • Medications
  • Ultraviolet light 

If you think you might be suffering from skin allergies, you should look into an allergy DNA test to inform your next steps. 

The four different types of allergic reactions

There are four types of allergic reactions that can affect someone who is experiencing an attack – and each are triggered by something different, and result in varying effects.

  1. Anaphylactic Reactions

These are the most common types of allergic reactions, and are often triggered by dust mites, dander, pollen, and certain types of food. Anaphylactic reactions cause the body to release histamines – and other chemicals that cause swelling and/or inflammation. All of the common types of allergies we listed above are forms of anaphylactic reactions, and can range from mild to severe depending on the situation. 

  1. Cytotoxic Reactions

Cytotoxic reactions take place when IgG or IgM antibodies bind with antigens located on cell surfaces. Then, a chain of reactions will occur, leading to cell death. If you suffer from a cytotoxic reaction, you may end up suffering from one of the following conditions:

  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Autoimmune neutropenia
  • Goodpasture syndrome
  • Graves’ disease
  • Immune thrombocytopenia
  • Myasthenia gravis

  1. Immunocomplex Reactions

Immunocomplex reactions (like lupus, Arthus reaction, or rheumatoid arthritis) are also linked to IgG and IgM antibodies. When binded with antigens, the antibodies form immunocomplexes that eventually settle on organs and tissues. The body may attempt to remove these complexes, but that will only result in further tissue damage. 

  1. Cell-Mediated Allergic Reactions

Cell-mediated allergic reactions are defined by their delay: symptoms don’t tend to manifest until 24-72 hours after exposure. Examples of cell-mediated allergic reactions include chronic asthma, contact dermatitis, and fungal infections. If you think you might suffer from allergies or some type of intolerance, we recommend consulting allergy genes testing to figure out what’s going on, what the solution might be, and how you can adjust your routine to improve your quality of life. Understanding your allergies genetics will give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your health and daily well-being.

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