What Is An Allergy?

An allergy is an abnormal reaction to a usually harmless foreign substance in the body, an atack if you will. Allergies can be caused by just about any substance that you inhale, swallow or that touches your skin. Allergies are extremely common, affecting nearly 2 in 5 people. Some of the more common symptoms include asthma, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy or burning eyes and skin irritation. In severe cases even death can occur.

It’s not exactly clear why some people develop allergies, though it seems to run in families and often family members can share allergies to specific foods or medications. It’s likely that the allergic response was intended to protect the body from parasitic infections, though sometimes the immune system can confuse harmless substances as a threat. Allergies can occur at any time during one’s life, though most of the time they develop during childhood or young adulthood.

Common substances that can cause an allergic reaction include pollen, mold, dust mites, pet saliva and dander, medications, insect venom (bee stings for example) and even certain foods (like peanuts). The latter, bee stings and peanuts, can often cause anaphylaxis - a severe reaction where the body literally goes into shock and blood pressure drops, respiratory arrest occurs, and possible heart failure results.

Whatever the type of allergy you suffer from, learning the cause can help to avoid the substance. If you know what’s triggering your allergic reaction, it’s much easier to manage the symptoms. Antihistamines like Benadryl are most commonly used for treatment.

October 24th, 2007 • mdvaldosta • Allergies, Conditions and Diseases No Comments »


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