What are Allergies

Allergies is defined as an over-reaction of our immune system to a substance that is usually harmless to most people. There are lots of substances that can cause allergies to different individuals and these substances that cause allergies are called allergens.

It is estimated that more than 20% of Americans have some type of allergy. In-fact, allergies have become so common in this day and age that it is very common for people to talk about them anywhere.

Pollens, molds, animal danders, dust mites, certain foods, venoms and medications are common allergens – they cause allergic reactions on many people. These allergens cause the body’s immune system to over-react or become hyper-sensitize and you may experience a number of symptoms including itchy, watery nose and eyes, asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing, or hives.

During an allergic process, the substance responsible for causing the allergy, or allergen, is mistaken by the body’s immune system to be a harmful substance. The body then produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that to combat these allergens. These antibodies then cause certain cells in the body to release chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream that causes the symptoms of allergies.

If the allergen is in the air, the allergen is inspired (breathed in), and an allergic reaction will occur in the eyes, nose, and/or lungs. If the allergen is ingested, an allergic reaction will occur in the mouth, stomach, and intestines. Sometimes enough inflammatory chemicals are released to cause a reaction throughout the body, such as hives, decreased blood pressure, shock, or loss of consciousness. This severe type of reaction is called anaphylaxis and may be life-threatening.

The symptoms of allergies are different for different individuals but they all can make you feel miserable and painful. It is a good idea for any allergy sufferer to get to know which allergens they are allergic to so that they can avoid them and can control the symptoms.

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