Allergies – Conditions

What is allergy


An allergy is your immune system’s reaction toward a foreign substance it considers to be harmful. These substances include food, pollen, medication, latex, and more. These are called allergens. The basic function of an immune system is to develop antibodies against harmful substances. Allergic reactions are the immune system’s response against substances the body views as harmful but completely harmless.

Allergies are mostly developed at an early age and some may subside with time but most allergies are lifelong. Latex allergy, food allergy, seasonal allergy, animal allergy, environmental allergies, pollen allergy, and drug allergy are all very commonly found allergies in the United States.

Between 10% and 30% of people worldwide suffer from allergic rhinitis. Up to 40% of people worldwide have sensitivity (IgE antibodies) to foreign proteins in the environment.

What Causes Allergies?

An allergic reaction is caused when your body recognizes a harmless substance as a dangerous invader. Once exposed to that substance the immune system produces antibodies in response to fight the alleged harmful effects of that substance. Whenever you are exposed to the substance again, your immune system creates a chemical called histamine that causes allergic symptoms. 

Doctors and medical professionals don’t know what exactly leads to a body being allergic to a certain harmless substance, but if you have someone in your family who is allergic to a particular substance, it’s likely that you will be allergic to that substance too. Common allergens include food, latex, pollen, medication, insect stings, animal and dust mites.

Symptoms and Signs of Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction causes symptoms of irritation, redness, or inflammation in the eyes, nasal passages, throat, or the skin. The severity and specificity of these symptoms depend on what substance is the individual allergic to.

Mentioned below are the symptoms of some specific allergies: 

Seasonal Allergy

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Sore and itchy throat
  • Ear congestion

Food Allergy

  • Nausea and vomiting with abdominal pain
  • Swollen tongue, lips, and face
  • Tingling and itchiness in the mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea

Insect Allergy

  • Itching
  • Swelling and pain at the site of the sting
  • Mild Hives
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain

Drug Allergy

  • Skin rash and hives
  • Itchy and flaky skin
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the tongue, lips, and face
  • Fever

Latex Allergy

  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itchy and scratchy throat
  • Coughing

Animal Allergy

  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • Itchy nasal pathways and throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Facial pressure
  • Sneezing


A primary care physician will determine what exactly you are allergic to. They will ask you questions regarding your family’s history as well as your daily routine, and consequently prescribe an allergy test. In case you have a food allergy, your doctor will likely ask you about your daily appetite and will recommend you stop eating a few suspected foods during the allergy evaluation.

Your primary care physician may suggest you get one or both of the following tests done:

  • Skin test
  • Blood test

If the physician identifies that your symptoms are being caused due to some other health concern, they will recommend further tests to evaluate your condition properly. 

Allergy Treatment

Allergy treatments can be done through various methods which include:

  • Avoiding exposure to allergens: Your primary care physician will consult you on how and what steps you can take to identify and avoid your allergens and allergy triggers. This is one of the most initial and important steps in reducing allergic reactions
  • Medications: You might be prescribed medications depending on what you are allergic to. These said medications will help curb allergy symptoms. You might be given over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs and medication like pills, nasal sprays, or eye drops.
  • Immunotherapy: Allergen Immunotherapy is recommended for extremely severe allergies or allergies that can’t be treated with the help of other medications. A series of injections of purified allergen extracts are given to the person suffering from severe allergy symptoms, these injections are usually given over a period of a few years.

When to See a Doctor?

You should see a primary care physician if your allergies are causing problematic symptoms like chronic sinus infections or difficulty breathing or in case you experience hay fever or other allergy symptoms several months out of the year.

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