Allergies are the immune system's specific reaction to a normally harmless substance such as pollens, certain foods, or medicines. There are two main types, seasonal and perennial. The seasonal variety occurs at specific times of the year, while the perennial variety can happen year-round. In many cases, successful treatment involves medication, reducing contact with specific allergens, or shots.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases. One of the most common forms of allergies is an allergic reaction to something in the air. Health experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from upper respiratory tract symptoms that are allergic reactions to airborne allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction).
This article discusses airborne allergies. Additional eMedTV articles focus on other types of allergies, such as allergies to latex or certain foods. Click Food Allergy and Latex Allergy for more information on these topics.
Allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance -- one that does not bother most people. People who have allergies are often sensitive to more than one substance. Examples of allergens that cause allergic reactions include:
- House dust mites
- Mold spores
- Latex rubber
- Insect venom