An allergy is an exaggerated immune response of the body to substances that are typically harmless to most people. These substances, called allergens, can trigger an allergic reaction in individuals who are sensitive or allergic to them. The immune system of an allergic person mistakenly identifies the allergen as a threat and responds by producing antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin E (IgE), to fight off the perceived threat.
Upon subsequent exposure to the same allergen, the IgE antibodies signal the release of various chemicals, such as histamine, into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause inflammation and lead to the characteristic symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Allergies can manifest in various forms, including respiratory allergies (e.g., hay fever or allergic asthma), food allergies, skin allergies, medication allergies, or insect sting allergies. Common symptoms of allergies can include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, skin rashes, coughing, wheezing, or even more severe reactions like anaphylaxis.
Allergies can be diagnosed through medical history, physical examination, and specific allergy tests, such as skin prick tests or blood tests. Once an allergy is identified, management may involve allergen avoidance, medication to alleviate symptoms, or in some cases, immunotherapy (allergy shots) to desensitize the immune system.
If you suspect you have allergies, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or allergist for an accurate diagnosis, appropriate management, and personalized treatment plan.