What is an Allergy?

Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to a usually harmless substance called allergens. When exposed to an allergen, the body starts to produce a specific type of antibody, called IgE. Together the allergen, lgE and blood cell (specifically mast cells) join causing the mast cells to release a variety of chemicals into the blood. This response releases a chemical within the body called histamine, which allows you to feel common allergy symptoms.

Common Allergens

  • Grass
  • Trees and weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Molds

Common Symptoms

  • Runny, stuffy, and/or itchy nose
  • Itchy, watery, and/or red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Rashes

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Common Allergens

  • Grass
  • Trees and weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Molds

Common Symptoms

  • Runny, stuffy, and/or itchy nose
  • Itchy, watery, and/or red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Rashes

50million

Americans with allergies

20%

rate of diagnosis

$7.9billion

annual economic cost

Allergy FAQs

Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to a usually harmless substance called allergens. This response releases a chemical within the body called histamine, which allows you to feel common allergy symptoms.

Grass, tree and weed pollens, mold, dust mites and pet dander are most common.

Itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, itchy throat, runny nose and rashes are most common. Most symptoms will subside after the body is no longer exposed to that allergen. The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis, characterized by shortness of breath, tightness in the throat, rapidly swelling tongue, nausea, abdominal cramps, uterine cramps, sense of impending doom and a spreading rash. This reaction is life threatening so seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms. Epinephrine is the treatment of choice should these symptoms occur following an immunotherapy injection.

When exposed to an allergen, the body starts to produce a specific type of antibody, called IgE. Together the allergen, lgE and blood cell (specifically mast cells) join causing the mast cells to release a variety of chemicals into the blood. Histamine, the main chemical, causes most of the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

In spring, the blossoming of flowers, plants and trees means pollen is high. During summer, grass allergens can be most common during these typically dry air months. In fall, bad weather like rain and wind cause mold and weed pollen to be prevalent. During winter, pollen levels are lower, but people also experience more indoor allergies since they’re not outside as much.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies.

It’s asthma and allergies – striking 1 of 5 Americans. This is higher than cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

This disease costs more than $7.9 billion per year, most of which is spent on direct care and the rest relating to lost work productivity.

You can try to avoid or control your environment to lessen allergen interactions, treat with pharmaceuticals or immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the only known disease-modifying treatment for allergies and has lasting results when the course of therapy is completed.

Allergen immunotherapy is a form of treatment aimed at decreasing your sensitivity to substances called allergens. Immunotherapy involves introducing increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months.

Allergen immunotherapy: A practice parameter third update. Linda Cox, M.D., Harold Neson, M.D. and Richard Lockey, M.D. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. September 23, 2010. Frederick M. Schaffer, M.D., Lisa Welchel, FNPc, Hope Soliz, Tim Crimmins, Myla Ebeling, PhD, Tom Hulsey, PhD, Larry Garner, CPT, BA, . “The Safety of Home Immunotherapy Utilizing the United Allergy Services Protocol. Manuscript in preparation. (2012) American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergy treatment. Accessed February 1, 2011. Möller C, Dreborg S, Ferdousi HA, et al. Pollen immunotherapy reduces the development of asthma in children with seasonal rhinoconjunctivitis (the PAT-Study). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002;109:251-256.