What is allergy?
Allergies occur when the immune system becomes unusually sensitive and overreacts to common substances that are normally harmless, such as pollens, molds, dust or food. Genetic tendency plays a role since allergies tend to run in families. Allergy develops when exposure to certain substances leads to sensitivity. These substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
The immune system produces various antibodies. The antibody that is involved in allergic reactions is called IgE. During an allergic reaction allergens come into contact with special cells called "mast cells" that are found in the lining of the nose, lungs, skin and intestinal tract. The IgE antibodies that are attached to these cells cause the release of many chemicals, including histamine, which results in inflammation and symptoms of allergy.
Depending on the individual and the particular allergen, allergy symptoms can occur in the upper and lower respiratory tracts, the skin, digestive system and other organs. Each individual is different. For example in the case of cat allergy, one person might have symptoms affecting the nose while another might have wheezing in the chest.
Some allergies develop after a long period of exposure while others often seem to develop after a relatively short exposure. Some are life-long while others may subside over time. Once sensitization occurs, avoidance of allergens is the best way to prevent symptoms.Dust, Pet and Mold Allergies
Our multipage brochure about several common allergies.Atopic Dermatitis - Eczema
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