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Allergies and Your Health - What Are Allergies?

Feb 29, 2008
You know how they make you feel (runny nose, itchy eyes, tired and cranky), but what are allergies? An allergy is your immune system's reaction to certain plants, animals, and even foods. When your immune system confuses something in your environment (the allergen) with a bacteria or virus that could make you sick, it attacks! The allergy symptoms you experience are your body's way of handling your immune systems over jealousness in protecting your body from harm.

The most common allergic reaction people experience are sneezing and wheezing. It is usually caused by these common allergens:

-Dust mites (tiny insects that live in dust).
-Protein found in the dander (dry skin), saliva (spit), urine (pee), or other things from some animals.
-Grass, flower, and tree pollen (the fine dust from plants).
-Mold and mildew (small living things that grow in damp places).
-Foods, such as milk, wheat, soy, eggs, nuts, seafood, and legumes which include peas, beans, and peanuts.
-Latex (stretchy stuff that some of the gloves doctors and dentists use are made of)

Some of these allergens can cause sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, and a sore throat. Allergies to foods, however, can be more serious, causing hives. Vomiting and even breathing difficulties.

Some people suffer with allergies year round, while others experience more seasonal symptoms when the pollen from certain plants and trees are released in the air during the spring and fall.

Most people who experience allergic reactions to the things around them are born with this tendency. Many allergies are hereditary, so if others in your family are allergic to certain substances, the odds are you will be too.

How do you know if you really are allergic to certain things? Only a doctor who specializes in allergies and asthma can tell you for sure. There are a number of stick and blood tests that can be performed to determine exactly what substances your body reacts to, and how dangerous they may be.

Treatment may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. Some people with seasonal allergies simply begin taking prescribed anti-histamine a few weeks before the time when their allergens will bud. Those with more severe yearlong allergies may have to take medications on a daily basis to control their symptoms. Those suffering from food allergies can't really take any medication to prevent a reaction, so they must be ever vigilant to stay away from dangerous ingredients.

No matter what you're allergic too, there is help available. The key is finding the right doctor who can help you better deal with your allergies and find a treatment plan that can help you avoid any symptoms.
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