What Causes Allergies? And Other Answers to Common Allergy Questions

Recent studies show that the number of people suffering with seasonal allergies has been skyrocketing and is expected to continue increasing into the foreseeable future. In the United States alone, 65 million people suffer with seasonal allergies on a regular basis. What causes allergies and how does your body respond to them?

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are abnormal reactions to ordinarily harmless substance. The sensitizing substances, called allergens, may be inhaled, swallowed, or come into contact with the skin. Despite the fact that allergies are so common, the actual cause of them is still rather “mysterious” and vague for many sufferers.

What Causes Allergies?What Causes Allergies?

The most common allergens include pollen, mold spores, house dust mites, animal dander, foods, insect bites or stings, plants, insect spores, latex rubber, viruses, bacteria, medications and environmental conditions such as cold, heat or humidity.

While it’s easy to blame your sister’s cat, most allergens are actually harmless. What really causes the allergic reactions is our own immune system that mistakes these allergens for a serious threat and starts attacking them.

How Does the Body Respond to Allergens?

Allergic reactions occurs after the immune system mistakenly learns to recognize innocent foreign substances or allergens as potentially harmful. Most people who suffer from allergies have to deal with these aggravating conditions that can interrupt their lifestyle.

Common symptoms of a typical allergic reaction include breathing congestion, inflammation, scratchy or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itching, puffy face, flushing of the cheeks, vomiting, stomachache and intestinal irritation. But what is happening inside your body when you’re exposed to allergens? The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) explains:

“Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.

Each type of IgE has specific “radar” for each type of allergen. That’s why some people are only allergic to cat dander (they only have the IgE antibodies specific to cat dander), while others have allergic reactions to multiple allergens because they have many more types of IgE antibodies.

It’s not yet fully understood why some substances trigger allergies and others do not, or why some people have allergic reactions while others do not. A family history of allergies is the single most important factor that puts you at risk of developing allergic disease.”

What’s Triggering Your Allergic Response?

Different allergens will produce different reactions in those who suffer from allergies. If you think that you may have allergies, it is wise to pay close attention to how your body reacts to these different allergens, and take notes on the severity of the symptoms to share with a medical care professional. This will give you a good indication of what environmental irritants may be triggering your allergic responses and to what degree.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Medical Clinic

If symptoms interfere with normal day-to-day activities or if there is a sudden onset of symptoms, you should see a doctor. This is especially important if a child under your care is experiencing severe or sudden symptoms.

eMedical Urgent Care physicians provide urgent medical care and allergy treatment to both adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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