ALLERGIES AND ALLERGY TESTING

WHAT ARE ALLERGIES?

Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. Allergy symptoms range from making you miserable to putting you at risk for life-threatening reactions.

According to the leading experts in allergy, an allergic reaction begins in a persons immune system. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause sickness or illness. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader to the body. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

Allergies affect more than 50 million people per year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Inhaled allergens are by far the most common type. Seasonal allergies and hay fever, which is an allergic response to pollen, affect more than 40 million Americans.

The World Allergy Organization estimates that asthma is responsible for 250,000 deaths annually. These deaths can be avoided with proper allergy care.

Allergy testing can determine what particular pollens, molds, or other substances you’re allergic to. You may need medication to treat your allergies. Alternatively, you can try to avoid your allergy triggers.

WHAT CAUSES ALLERGIES?

Allergens
An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some people, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma. In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) can occur.

Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction. There are three primary types of allergens:

  • Inhaled allergens affect the body when they come in contact with the lungs or membranes of the nostrils. Pollen is the most common inhaled allergen.
  • Ingested allergens are present in certain foods, such as peanuts, soy, and gluten.
  • Contact allergens must come in contact with your skin to produce a reaction. An example of a reaction from a contact allergen is the rash and itching caused by poison ivy.


Although nearly any food is capable of causing an allergic reaction, there are 9 foods that cause the majority of reactions. These foods are:

  • Peanut
  • Tree nuts
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Sesame


While only eight foods (milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy) account for approximately 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions, a person can be allergic to virtually any food.

While the list below is not exhaustive, allergic reactions have been reported to: Types of Reactions

  • Corn
  • Gelatin
  • Meat (beef, chicken, mutton, and pork)
  • Seeds (sesame, sunflower, and poppy being the most common)
  • Spices (caraway, coriander, garlic, mustard, etc.)

Other common causes of severe reactions include:

  • Medications
  • Latex
  • Insect Stings
  • Mold
  • Animal Dander
  • Pollen
  • ​Dust

Allergic reactions to fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apple, carrot, peach, plum, tomato and banana, to name a few, are often diagnosed as Oral Allergy Syndrome.

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