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Spreading Allergy Awareness

Allergists define allergy as a reaction of the body’s immune system that take place after the body becomes sensitized to a substance (allergen), usually a protein. Allergic reactions result when allergy-causing proteins combine with antibodies to trigger the release of histamine and other chemicals that can cause skin rashes and various other symptoms

  Types of Allergy

Allergies come in a wide variety. They are often classified according to where they produce symptoms: skin, respiratory tract (nose, lungs). Or their causes: insect stings, foods, medicines.

  Causes of Allergy

There is a genetic component to most allergies, which means allergies are hereditary and passed to children from their parents. The child inherits the tendency to be allergic, but not to any specific allergen. If a child develops an allergy, it is likely that at least one parent of the child also has allergies. Another risk factor that appears to contribute to the development of allergy is the act of being exposed to allergens at certain times when the body’s defenses are low or weak, such as after a viral infection or during pregnancy.

The substances that cause allergic disease are known as allergens. They enter our bodies in a variety of ways:

The normal reaction of our body to invasion by foreign substances is to defend itself. This is the role of our immune system.

To find the cause of an allergy, needs considerable diagnostic skills, otherwise a lot of money and time can be spent looking in the wrong direction before you get to the correct answer.



  Symptoms of Allergy

When an allergen enters the body of a person with a sensitized immune system, histamine and other chemicals are released by certain cells. This causes itching, swelling, mucus production, muscle spasms, hives, rashes, and other symptoms.

There is no single allergy symptom, they vary with the source and type of allergy.

Symptoms can include:

  How is allergy diagnosed or evaluated?

A carefully obtained patient history, including environmental exposures, and the appropriate laboratory tests or allergen challenges is critical for the accurate diagnosis of allergy.

Tests that may reveal the specific allergens include:

Other tests that may reveal allergies include:


There are three techniques commonly offered by doctors to help allergy sufferers:

Many allergens, once identified, can simply be avoided. If you know you’re allergic to shellfish, you don’t eat it. Pet allergies can be handled sometimes by keeping the pet outside.
Unfortunately, many allergens — like pollen, mold and dust — are very difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. These can often be managed by using medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, cromolyn sodium, corticosteroids and, in the case of anaphylaxis, epinephrine.

Medications that can be used to treat allergies include the following:

Immunotherapy is expensive, time consuming and not without risk. But it is often the only hope a person has for leading a normal life. It consists of a series of injections of the offending allergen, beginning with a very weak dilution and gradually building in strength to a maintenance dose that may be continued over time. The injections help the immune system to produce fewer IgE antibodies, while also stimulating the production of a blocking antibody called IgG. This works to varying degrees with many allergies, but some cannot be treated this way.


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