Allergy Symptoms

Allergies are exaggerated immune responses to environmental triggers known referred to as allergens.

Allergy facts

Allergy involves an exaggerated response of the immune system, often to common substances such as foods or pollen. The immune system is an intricate system that defends the body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, while also surveying for conditions such ascancer and autoimmunity. Allergens are substances that are foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction. IgE is the allergic antibody. Allergies can not only develop at any age, but many individuals also outgrow allergies over time. While environment plays a role in allergy development, there is a greater risk of developing allergic conditions if a person has a family history of allergy, especially in parents or siblings.

An allergy refers to an exaggerated reaction by our immune system in response to exposure to certain foreign substances. It is exaggerated because these foreign substances are usually seen by the body as harmless and no response occurs in nonallergic people. In allergic individuals, the body recognizes the foreign substance and one arm of the immune system generates a response.

Allergy-producing substances are called "allergens." Examples of allergens include pollens, dust mites, molds, animal proteins, foods, and even medications. To understand the language of allergy, it is important to remember that allergens are substances that are foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction in certain people. When an allergic individual comes in contact with an allergen, the immune system mounts a response through the IgE antibody. Therefore, people who are prone to allergies are said to be allergic or "atopic."

Allergy prevalance:

Approximately 10% to 30% of individuals in the industrialized world are affected by allergic conditions, and this number is increasing. Allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies) affects roughly 20% of Americans. Between prescription costs, physician visits, and missed days of work/school, the economic burden of allergic disease exceeds $3 billion annually. Asthma affects roughly 8% to 10% of Americans. The estimated health costs for asthma exceed approximately $20 billion annually. The prevalence of allergic conditions has increased significantly over the last two decades and continues to rise.