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Allergies and Allergy Treatment

Allergies are relatively common. Both genetics and environmental factors can play a role. An allergy is caused by an oversensitive immune system, which leads to a misdirected immune response. The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses. But in a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive.

Common allergens include pollen, pet dander and dust. If your doctor recommends the patient for allergy testing it is to determine if the symptoms are a reaction to an allergen.

Allergy Symptoms

When the body recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals, such as histamines that can cause the following symptoms:

  1. Itching
  2. Swelling
  3. Mucus production
  4. Hives
  5. Rashes

Allergens that are breathed in:

  1. Styffy or runny nose
  2. Itchy nose and throat
  3. Mucus production
  4. Cough or wheezing

Skin tests are the most useful especially for respiratory allergies as listed above. If the patient is found to be allergic to these substances and the allergen cannot be avoided and/or symptoms are hard to control with medication, allergy shots (immunotherapy) are then recommended.

Immunotherapy or allergy shots keep your body from over-reacting to the allergen. Regular injections are given, with each dose slightly larger than the previous dose until a maintenance dose is reached. Over time, this helps the body adjust to the allergen and reduce or even possibly eliminate the reactions and symptoms.