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What is Allergies?
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Main > Specialty Areas > Immunology >
Allergies

Causes of Allergies

Pretty much anything can cause an allergic reaction: house dust, mold, insects, dust mites, latex, makeup, laundry detergent, pet fur, pollen, sperm, various foods, medicines and even cold temperatures and sun light.

One of the main causes of allergies is a protein called histamine that occurs naturally in a human body. During an immune reaction, a body starts "injecting" histamine molecules into the blood stream. The result: skin reddening, vasodilation (an increase of permeability of blood vessels) that subsequently causes the familiar allergy symptoms such as runny nose and watery eyes. When histamine is released in the lungs it causes the airways to constrict in order to keep out the allergens. That results in difficulties breathing, which happens to people suffering from asthma – a very serious allergic complication that can be fatal.

Chemical Info:
Histamine is a hormone/chemical transmitter that is involved in the body’s immune processes. It regulates stomach acid production, and mediates hypersensitivity of the body during allergic reactions. A histamine release during allergic reactions causes inflammation which results in symptoms typically associated with allergies.

How allergies work is still somewhat of a mystery. A sufferer usually knows the offending substances that cause his or her allergies and tries to avoid them, however an allergy may spontaneously develop in response to a new allergen or spontaneously disappear (unfortunately, the first scenario is much more common than the second). Furthermore, allergies can often be hereditary: if one parent suffers from a particular type, his offspring has a 25% chance of inheriting it. That number grows to 75%-80%, if both parents are sufferers.

‹‹ What is Allergies? Symptoms of Allergies ››

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Random Useful Tip:
Epinephrine shot
If you are known to have a severe anaphylactic reaction, carry an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot with you at all times. Pay attention to expiration date and replace it regularly: upon expiration, it loses its effectiveness.

Random Drug Info:
Acyclovir
Acyclovir is a medication that is used to treat herpes infections of the skin, lips and genitals, chicken pox and shingles. It comes in the form of ointments, tablets, capsules or liquids. It relieves pain and itchiness and promotes healing; however, it does not cure the condition. Possible (but not common) side effects include headaches, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe side effects, such as severe rash or itching, blood in the urine, stomach pain or fever are even less common, but require prompt medical attention.



 
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