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Allergies: Have I Got An Allergy?

May 1, 2008
To some people, the terms "allergies" and "sensitivities" are often used to mean the same thing, although much sensitivity is not a true allergy.

Allergies are an over-reaction of the immune system to foreign substances. When you come in contact with these substances your immune system has an unexpected hypersensitive reaction to elements which would otherwise be harmless. Allergies can a really tough thing to deal with. You can't just go to a doctor and assume that they will magically find all your allergies and treat them. Allergies are something we acquire throughout our lifetime, and some people are more sensitive than the others. One must have at least one contact with a substance to become sensitive, or allergic to it.

You may suffer from an allergy because of family genes. Your allergies often develop slowly as your becomes sensitive to various things in the environment; just as the final straw is rumored to have broken the camel's back, so the final allergen may trigger attacks and make life miserable. Fortunately, there are things to do to minimize the impact so that allergies don't make your life a misery.

How Common Are Allergies?

Allergies are becoming one of the most common medical disorders. It is estimated that 60 million Americans, or more than one in every five people, suffer from some form of allergy, with similar proportions throughout much of the rest of the world.

What Can Trigger An Allergic Reaction?

Allergies can be inhaled, ingested or picked up through skin contact. Some common causes of allergies are trees, grasses, ragweed, mold, dust mites and food products such as milk, wheat, corn, eggs, and yeast.

Allergies can also be triggered by various allergy-causing substances (allergens) such as pollens, molds, and animal dander. In the springtime, typical allergens are pollens that come from grasses and trees.

During Spring and Summer, allergies are generally induced by wind-born tree, grass, or weed pollen, and can cause such symptoms as: headaches; fatigue; and sometimes coughing, wheezing, sneezing; nasal congestion; runny nose; watery, itchy, and or red eyes. Allergies can either be seasonal (occurring at specific times of the year) or perennial (occurring year-round). Research scientists do not know for sure why one person develops allergies and another person does not, although it is believed that allergies may be inherited.

Allergies are only triggered by proteins; sugars and fats, for example, do not cause food allergies. Dyes and food additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate) may cause allergic reactions, but are uncommon (less than 1 in 100, or 1%, in children and less than 1 in 500, or 0.2%, in adults).

Allergies in babies are most commonly associated with foods and viral respiratory infections. For reasons that confuse the medical world, children with allergies tend to outgrow them. Allergies to plants often cause a skin rash. Drug allergies usually involve the whole body and can lead to a variety of symptoms.

How Do You Treat Allergies?

Like the flu you can get shots to combat your allergy. The idea is that if you inject an allergic person with a little bit of the thing they're allergic to, their body will learn overcome it.


Allergies are a common ailment among many people today, and the triggers that people are allergic to can vary greatly. For those who are suffering from allergies, it may be difficult to cope with the symptoms. Allergies can be much more than itchy skin and a high fever. Nowadays it is possible to identify allergies by simply looking at someone but unfortunately allergies can be caused by something seemingly unexpected, what you are allergic today, you may not be allergic to tomorrow.
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