An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance which in the majority of people causes no symptoms. These substances, also known as allergens, can cause allergic reactions. Examples of allergens include pollen, dust, mold, pets, foods and drugs. The body's immune system overreacts by attacking the allergens and releasing chemicals in attempts to protect itself. Chemicals that are released interact with other cells in the body cause allergic symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy eyes and cough.
Allergies have a strong genetic component. If you have allergies, it is very likely that one or both your parents have allergies, too. Sometimes allergy symptoms that start in childhood can disappear for many years and then recur as an adult. In addition, children who have allergies do not always develop the same allergies as their parents.
These are the most common symptoms associated with allergies:
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion
• Postnasal drip
• Itchy, tearing eyes
These are less common symptoms associated with allergies:
• Loss of smell or taste
An allergic reaction can affect any part of the body but symptoms are most often felt in the nose, eyes, sinuses, lungs, lining of the stomach, throat and skin. These are places where immune cells are located and ready to fight invaders that come in contact with the skin or are inhaled or swallowed.
Allergy skin testing is a safe and effective way to find out exactly what you allergic to. Allergy skin testing is performed in both children and adults and is the most accurate and preferred method of evaluating allergies. These tests are safe, minimally invasive, and easily interpreted. Allergy skin testing is a simple procedure that introduces a very small amount of specific allergens introduced through an indention or "prick" on the surface of the skin. The results are available within minutes.