Immunology

A good spring clean can help tame seasonal allergies

(HealthDay)—When it's finally time to store away your winter coats and boots, it's also a good time to rid your home of the allergens that accumulated over the winter, an allergist suggests.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New potential approach to treat atopic dermatitis

How does the immune system respond to fungi on our skin? Researchers at the University of Zurich have demonstrated that the same immune cells that protect us against skin fungi also encourage the inflammatory symptoms of ...

Radiology & Imaging

Smart speaker technology harnessed for hospital medical treatments

Smart speakers that are customarily used in your living room can be programmed to act as an aid to physicians in hospital operating rooms, according to new research presented today at the Society of Interventional Radiology's ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Antibodies from earlier exposures affect response to new flu strains

We are repeatedly exposed to the influenza virus via infections, vaccinations and our communal environments. The annual flu shot is believed to be the best line of defense, and doctors recommend vaccinations every year because ...

Immunology

Exposing baby to foods early may help prevent allergies

(HealthDay)—New parents worry about a lot of things, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says one thing they can cross off that list is concern about giving high-allergy foods too early in life.

Medications

Researchers create new device to detect antibiotic allergies

The detection of allergies to antibiotics is currently conducted with a series of in vivo skin tests that are invasive and therefore entail inconveniences. Although in vitro methods do exist, they are not sufficiently sensitive, ...

Immunology

Shellfish allergies: can they be treated?

Seafood platters? Bouillabaisse? Arroz de Marisco? Seafood paella? Oysters Rockefeller? Lobster Thermidor? Dining out with friends, a romantic meal, celebrating Christmas or a holiday on a wind-swept coast with these seafood ...

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An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.

Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in the human population and cause symptoms such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, hay fever, or an asthma attack. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees are often associated with these severe reactions.

A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. These include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling. Blood tests can also be done to look for an allergen-specific IgE.

Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, use of medications such as anti-histamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as decongestants that reduce the symptoms. Many of these medications are taken by mouth, though epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic reactions, is injected. Immunotherapy uses injected allergens to desensitize the body's response.

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