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What are allergies?

Allergies are your body’s reaction to a substance it views as a harmful “invader.” For example, coming into contact with what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, might cause your immune system (your body’s defense system) to react. Substances that cause these reactions are call allergens.

What is an allergic reaction?

An “allergic reaction” is the way your body responds to the allergen. A chain of events occur that result in an allergic reaction.

If you are prone to allergies, the first time you’re expose to a specific allergen (such as pollen), your body responds by producing allergic (IgE) antibodies. The job of these antibodies is to find the allergens and help remove them from your system. As a result, a chemical call histamine is release and causes symptoms of allergies.

What are the symptoms of allergies?

Allergy symptoms are classifie as mild, moderate or severe:

  • Mild reactions include local symptoms (affecting a specific area of your body) such as a rash or hives, itchiness, watery/red eyes, hay fever and runny nose. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of your body.
  • Moderate reactions include symptoms that sprea to other parts of your body. Symptoms may include itchiness, hives, and/or swelling and trouble breathing.
  • A severe allergic reaction, know as anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which your body’s response to the allergen is sudden and affects the whole body.

What causes allergies?

Anything that you come into contact with that your body views as a “harmful invader” can be a cause of an allergy. Normally harmless substances that are common causes of allergies include pollen, animal dander, mold, dust, foods, insect venom and latex

Technically, your symptoms are the result of a chain of events that are your body’s response to the “harmful invader.” Your body “sees” the invader, makes antibodies to fight the invader, and in so doing, releases histamines that cause your allergy symptoms.