What are Allergies?
Allergies involve a hypersensitive immune response to allergens, or triggers, in our environment that are in fact completely harmless. Some of the most common allergens include such things as:
- Inhalants: pollen, dust and dust mites, molds and their spores, and animal dander
- Foods: the majority of food allergies result from eggs, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy.
- Insects: stings from insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets.
Generally, this immune system hypersensitivity is genetic, or inherited from our parents. When a person with this type of hypersensitivity is exposed to certain allergens, this results in an allergic reaction. This reaction can be demonstrated in a variety of ways depending on the allergen involved, how it is introduced to the body, and how allergic the patient is to the allergen.
It is important to note that hypersensitivity is different from immunodeficiency. Hypersensitivity involves an inappropriately strong response from the immune system, whereas immunodeficiency results from a failure of the immune system to defend the body against disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses.