What are Allergies?

An allergy refers to an exaggerated reaction by the immune system in response to exposure to certain foreign substances. The response is exaggerated because these foreign substances are normally seen by the body as harmless in non allergic individuals and do not cause a response in them. In allergic individuals, the body recognizes the foreign substance, and the allergic part of the immune system generates a response. When your body tries to get rid of the ‘allergen’ (foreign substance), you experience symptoms like sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and a runny, stuffy nose.

Allergy-producing substances are called “allergens”.

What is an Allergen?

An allergen is a foreign substance that can trigger an allergic reaction. Typical allergens include pet dander, pollen, dust mites and molds, animal proteins, foods and medications. When an alleric individual comes in contact with an allergen, the immune system mounts a response through the IgE antibody. People who are prone to allergies are said to be allergic or ‘atopic’.

Why Allergy Happens

You might blame your triggers — the pollen in the air, your best friend’s cat — for your symptoms.

But actually, most of those things are harmless. What really causes allergic reactions is your immune system. It mistakes innocent things in your surroundings for a serious threat and attacks them. The symptoms you get are the result.

Indoor allergies can occur any time of the year in your work or home environment. Exposure to allergens like dust-mites, mold spores or pet dander can trigger symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. The severity of the symptoms varies from mild to severe. While it is not life-threatening, it can impact your quality of life, sleep, daily activities and performance at work or school.

How are allergies classified?

Allergies can manifest in a variety of ways and affect different organs. Depending on the organ involved or their causes, they are called differently.

• Allergic rhinitis (Nose)
• Allergic Conjunctivitis (Eyes)
• Allergic Asthma (Lungs)
• Food Allergies
• Drug Allergies
• Skin Allergies (Eczema)

Types of Allergy

There are various types of Allergy:

Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and wonder if they have a food allergy. Food allergy may be of the immediate or delayed form.

Seasonal Allergies

For most people, a change of seasons signals the beginning of long, lazy days or cool, crisp evenings. But for the one in 10 Americans who suffers from pollen allergies, changing seasons can mean misery.

As the trees start to bloom and the pollen gets airborne, allergy sufferers begin their annual ritual

Pet Allergies

Animals produce multiple allergens found on the fur and skin and in saliva.

All dogs/cats produce allergens. Homes with more than one dog/cat have higher levels of allergens. Dust and pollen in animals coats could also cause allergy symptoms. In those cases, the allergy is to the dust or pollen, not to the animal.

Dust Mite Allergies

However, the major ingredient of house dust is none other than the shed scales from your own skin. In other words, you are the main cause of dust formation in your house!
Unwittingly, your shed skin scales provide the principal food supply for a ubiquitous army of microscopic 8-legged spider-like creatures that play a very important role in causing allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema – the house dust mite.

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