About Allergies

What are Allergies?

Allergies are one of the most common chronic conditions worldwide. When you have an allergy, your immune system identifies an ordinarily harmless substance as an intruder. This substance is called an allergen. In response to the allergen, the immune system overreacts by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that secrete histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

A stuffy, runny or itchy nose, a scratchy throat, watery eyes or frequent sneezing may all be signs of allergies. Allergens can cause the inside of the nose to swell or the eyes to water. Symptoms may also appear in the lungs, sinuses, ears, stomach lining or on the skin. People can have either seasonal or perennial allergies. Seasonal allergies mean that these problems tend to be worse during certain times of the year, like spring and fall. Perennial means you may experience symptoms all year round. Some people have both seasonal and perennial allergies. Some examples of possible allergens are listed below.

Common Allergy Causes:

  • Pollen (trees, grasses, weeds i.e., ragweed)
  • Dust (dust mites)
  • Food
  • Insect Stings
  • Animal Dander
  • Mold
  • Drugs
  • Latex

A Skin Allergy is when there is a skin irritation caused by a variety of factors such as heat, medications, infections and immune system disorders. When an allergen triggers an immune system response, the irritation is an allergic skin condition.

Dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in direct contact with an allergen. Symptoms can include red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, and swollen skin at point of contact.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) is chronic skin condition related to immune dysfunction in the various layers of the skin. Atopic dermatitis usually begins in infancy or early childhood and is associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and food allergy.

Stinging Insect Allergy: For a small number of people with severe venom allergy, stings may be life-threatening. Most sting reactions are caused by five types of insects: yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, hornets and fire ants. Patients who have had a severe life-threatening reaction to an insect sting should be evaluated by an allergist. Venom immunotherapy is an effective treatment for stinging insect allergy in up to 97% of treated patients.

Do you have pollen allergies?

If you suffer from pollen allergies, visit this Interactive Pollen Allergy Map developed by Stallergenes Greer. Then, click on the map to find geographical listings of allergenic trees, weeds, and grasses, including insect-pollinated and cross-reactive species, for every US state and the territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.