Health

Who's stronger? An immunological battle of the sexes

Is there anything more exciting than a battle of the sexes? In popular culture, this usually focuses on societal gender roles. But, there's another battle of the sexes, a biological war waged by the body's immune system. ...

Health

How to talk to anti-vaxxers

When Rachel Alter started off as a graduate student, she expected to investigate epidemics, bioterrorism and disease eradication. But her focus started to shift after she began chatting with anti-vaxxers—people opposed ...

Immunology

Are microbes causing your milk allergy?

In the past 30 years, food allergies have become increasingly common in the United States. Changes to human genetics can't explain the sudden rise. That is because it takes many generations for changes to spread that widely ...

Immunology

How to prevent and treat eye allergies

(HealthDay)—When it comes to allergies, allergic rhinitis with its congested, itchy nose gets a lot of attention. But for some, allergic conjunctivitis with itchy, watery eyes is the greater nuisance. You might even have ...

Immunology

Could hacking the immune system cure allergies?

Scientists are redesigning natural allergens to help the immune system defend against them, in a move that could eliminate the side effects and lifelong medication of treating allergies—the most common chronic condition ...

Immunology

Helping kids manage side effects of allergy treatments

For children undergoing immunotherapy – a promising treatment for peanut allergies – uncomfortable side effects can induce anxiety, perhaps to the point of skipping doses or dropping treatment entirely. But guiding young ...

Pediatrics

Breastmilk sugars differ in pregnant women on probiotics

The complex sugars found in human breastmilk, long believed to be fixed in their composition, may change in women who are taking probiotics, according to new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

Immunology

Study finds unique form of chronic sinusitis in older patients

Older patients with a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis—a disease of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses that often persists over many years—have a unique inflammatory signature that may render them less responsive to ...

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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.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA