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|All About Allergies|
Gesundheit! You canít stop sneezing, your eyes are itching, your nose is running and youíre covered in hives. Your allergies have struck again ó and all you want to do is spend the day feeling sorry for yourself. Youíre in good company. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. But donít get lost in a sea of tissues every spring. There are ways to relieve the symptoms Ė or avoid getting them in the first place.
Allergies arenít merely just annoying; they can affect sleep, concentration, and productivityóand put you in a bad mood. Moreover, growing evidence shows that allergies and asthma may be two sides of the same coin: Asthmatics are more likely to be allergy sufferers, and those with allergies have a greater chance of developing asthma.
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of illness in the United States. An allergy refers to abnormal immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people. When youíre allergic to something, your immune system mistakenly believes that this substance is harmful to your body.
Substances that cause allergic reactions, such as certain foods, dust, plant pollen, or medicines, are known as allergens. In trying to protect the body, the immune system produces IgE antibodies to that allergen. Those antibodies then cause certain cells in the body to release chemicals into the bloodstream, one of which is histamine.
Some allergic reactions can be severe, like difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, for example, is often an allergic reaction to something that is breathed into the lungs in a person who is susceptible.
Some types of allergies produce multiple symptoms, and in rare cases, an allergic reaction can become very severe or anaphylaxis, which can be characterized by difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body, and dizziness or loss of consciousness. Anaphylactic reactions can usually be treated successfully if proper medical procedures are followed.
Some of the most common allergens are:
Some theories of the increased rate of allergies are: a decrease in breastfeeding; early introduction of potentially allergenic foods to an infantís diet; and high levels of air and water pollution.
How To Treat Allergies and Avoid Triggering Them
Here are some things that can help you avoid airborne allergens:
Avoidance can help protect people against non-food or chemical allergens, too. In fact, for some people, eliminating exposure to an allergen is enough to prevent allergy symptoms and they donít need to take medicines or go through other allergy treatments.
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