Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. Allergy symptoms range from making you miserable to putting you at risk for life-threatening reactions.
An allergic reaction begins in the immune system. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes otherwise harmless substances as invaders. These substances are called allergens. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing the allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some people, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma. In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) can occur.
Allergic Rhinitis is probably the most common form of allergic disease. These upper respiratory symptoms may be caused by exposure to pollens during the warmer seasons of the year or may occur on a year-round basis due to exposure to animal dander or dust mites.
Typical symptoms include itchy, tearing eyes, itchy ears, nose or throat, nasal congestion, clear watery runny nose and fits of sneezing. These symptoms can be severe enough to cause missed work or school or to limit a person's ability to function at work or school.
A number of different allergens are responsible for allergic reactions. The most common include:
1. Pollen (trees, weeds, and grass)
3. Dust Mites
5. Insect stings
6. Animal dander (skin cells)
Many people have suspicions about what may be causing their symptoms. Itís always a good idea to find out for sure Ė you donít want to get rid of your pet and find that you actually have a dust mite allergy!
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