What causes allergies?

Allergies are caused by the immune system’s abnormal response to substances that are typically harmless to most people. These substances, known as allergens, can trigger an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. The immune system mistakenly identifies these substances as harmful and reacts by releasing chemicals, such as histamine, which leads to allergy symptoms. Common allergens include:

  1. Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can trigger seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
  2. Dust mites: These tiny organisms are commonly found in bedding, upholstery, and carpets. Their droppings and body parts can cause allergic reactions.
  3. Animal dander: Allergies to pet dander, which includes skin flakes, saliva, and urine, are common. Cats, dogs, and other furry animals are common sources of dander allergens.
  4. Mold spores: Mold can grow in damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and areas with high humidity. Mold spores released into the air can trigger allergies.
  5. Insect stings: Stings or bites from insects like bees, wasps, hornets, or fire ants can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
  6. Certain foods: Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Food allergies can range from mild to severe, with some causing life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis).
  7. Medications: Certain medications, such as penicillin and other antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some seizure medications, can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.
  8. Latex: Latex allergies can occur in individuals who are repeatedly exposed to latex products, such as gloves, balloons, or medical devices.

It’s important to note that allergies can vary in their severity, from mild symptoms to severe and life-threatening reactions. If you suspect you have allergies, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or allergist for an accurate diagnosis, identification of specific allergens, and appropriate management strategies.

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