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  About Allergies About Asthma About Rhinitis  



Allergies are diseases of the immune system that cause an overreaction to substances called "allergens." Allergies are grouped by the kind of trigger, time of year or where symptoms appear on the body: indoor and outdoor allergies (also called "hay fever," "seasonal," "perennial" or "nasal" allergies), non-allergic food and drug allergies, latex allergies, insect allergies, skin allergies and eye allergies. People who have allergies can live healthy and active lives.

Indoor allergies (“perennial allergic rhinitis” [PAR] or often called “nasal” allergies) occur when allergens that are commonly found indoors are inhaled into the nose and the lungs causing allergic reactions. Examples of indoor allergens are airborne cat or dog dander, dust mite feces and mold spores.

Outdoor allergies (also called “seasonal allergic rhinitis” [SAR], “hay fever,” or “nasal” allergies) occur when allergens that are commonly found outdoors are inhaled into the nose and the lungs causing allergic reactions. Examples of commonly inhaled outdoor allergens are tree, grass and weed pollen and mold spores. Other allergens exist outdoors, such as stinging insects and poisonous plants, but these are usually considered “contact,” “skin” or “insect” allergens rather than “inhaled” allergens.

Food allergies and allergic reactions to certain drugs are serious. They are characterized by a broad range of allergic reactions to ingredients in the foods we eat or the medications we take. Food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system, different than food intolerance or food sensitivity.  The U.S. Food Allergy Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) now requires food labels to clearly identify all allergen ingredients (even if it's a spice or flavoring), and to discourage labels with ‘may contain' statements.

Latex allergies are caused by touching or inhaling natural latex allergens—proteins in the sap of the rubber tree—that cause an allergic reaction in some people. Some are affected by latex powder if inhaled, others by skin contact with latex, such as with surgical gloves. Severe cases can cause anaphylaxis, the most serious type of allergic reaction. Most experts believe that the allergy has surfaced recently as a result of the increased use of latex to protect people from infectious agents. There may be other causes as well. Synthetic latex is not an allergen, but natural latex is.

Many people look forward to summer, which brings the promise of pleasures like long days in the sun, picnics, beaches and baseball. Warm weather, however, also brings some not-so-welcome visitors in the form of stinging insects. For most people, these small creatures are an annoyance that threaten to ruin outdoor fun. But for some 2 million Americans, these insects pose a far more serious threat of a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Skin allergies (also called “allergic contact dermatitis”) occur when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your skin is sensitive or allergic to. Also, allergies to other things like food you eat or proteins you breathe in may cause symptoms to appear on your skin, such as hives or rashes. The reaction usually appears within 48 hours after the initial exposure to the allergen. Symptoms that are commonly seen include the following: redness, swelling, blistering, itching, hives and rashes. The allergen can be a substance in a product that you have used for many years; it does not have to be a new product. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs more commonly in adults. The most common types of allergic contact dermatitis are allergies to poison ivy, oak and sumac.

Eye allergies (also called “allergic conjunctivitis”) is a common eye condition. It is often called "pink eye." It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and helps keep your eyelid and eyeball moist. Allergens (pollen, mold spores, pet dander, etc.), irritants (dirt, smoke, chemicals, chlorine, etc.) and even viruses and bacteria can cause conjunctivitis. Pink eye caused by allergens is called “allergic conjunctivitis.” If it’s caused by bacteria or viruses it can spread easily from person to person but is not a serious health risk if diagnosed quickly; allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.



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