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What Are Allergies?

Allergies are a common health condition that affects over 50 million Americans every year. They occur when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, known as an allergen. Allergies can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, and can impact a person’s quality of life.

What are Allergies?

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance that is usually harmless. The immune system produces antibodies that recognize the allergen as harmful and release chemicals, such as histamine, to fight it off. These chemicals can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, depending on the sensitivity of the person’s immune system. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways, or digestive system. Common allergens include pollen, grass, trees, pet dander, dust mites, and certain foods.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergies

The signs and symptoms of allergies can vary depending on the type of allergen and the severity of the reaction. Some common signs and symptoms of allergies include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Runny or stuffy nose
  3. Itchy and watery eyes
  4. Skin rash or hives
  5. Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  6. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  7. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can occur immediately after exposure to the allergen or several hours later. In severe cases, allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system overreacts to airborne allergens, such as pollen, mold spores, and dust mites. Seasonal allergies are most common during the spring and fall when pollen counts are high. Some common signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Runny or stuffy nose
  3. Itchy and watery eyes
  4. Postnasal drip
  5. Scratchy throat
  6. Fatigue
  7. Headache

Seasonal allergies can be managed with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Some common medications used to treat seasonal allergies include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, and allergy immunotherapy. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding allergens, avoiding certain foods, and keeping windows closed, can also help reduce symptoms.

Allergies are a common health condition that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. They occur when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, known as an allergen. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and certain foods. The signs and symptoms of allergies can vary depending on the type of allergen and the severity of the reaction. Seasonal allergies are most common during the spring and fall when pollen counts are high. They can be managed with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. If you suspect you have allergies, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate treatment.

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