Step 1: What is an allergy?
St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Pediatric Center

Step 1: What is an allergy?
Next Page

When most people think of an allergy, they think of the sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes caused by pollen. In fact, allergies can be caused by just about any substance that you inhale or swallow, or that touches your skin. You can also be allergic to shots.

Your body's immune system is designed to attack harmful substances like bacteria and viruses. These reactions are important because they fight infections. But when you are allergic to something, your body develops allergic antibodies (IgE) against it. Your body develops IgE to things you normally come in contact with, such as pollen, pet hair, mold, and dust mites. Most people tolerate these substances without problems. When you have an IgE antibody to something, however, your immune system over reacts. These allergic reactions (hypersensitivity) can be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

Allergies are extremely common, and they are on the rise. Already, about 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, leading to a lot of missed work and school days each year. Annual medical costs already exceed $4.5 billion.

Not only do allergies cause a range of annoying symptoms, such as sneezing and itchy eyes, but they can aggravate or trigger other conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, and ear infections. For example, when allergies cause inflammation in your nasal passages, the opening to your sinuses can become blocked, leading to sinus inflammation, sinus infections, and sinus pain. Similarly, allergies can cause the ears not to drain properly, which can lead to ear infections.

Allergies can cause different skin-related symptoms, such as hives, swelling, and eczema. Some types of allergies (often food allergies) can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

One of the most deadly kinds of allergic reaction is called "anaphylaxis." This is when the entire body has a swift, severe reaction to something such as foods (peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish), latex, medications (penicillin), or insect stings. If anaphylaxis is not treated quickly, the body can go into shock, with a large drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and possible heart failure and death.

To continue to the next step of the allergy guide, click "next" below.

References

Brozek JL, Bousquet J, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. Allergic rhinitis and its impact on asthma (ARIA) guidelines: 2010 revision..J Allergy Clinical Immunology. Sept 2010:126(3);466-76.

Meltzer EO, Bukstein DA. The economic impact of allergic rhinitis and current guidelines for treatment. Annals of Allergy and Asthma. Feb 2011:106(2);Suppl 1:S12-16.

What is an Allergic Reaction? American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Public Education Committee;2006.

 

Next Page

Review Date: 6/29/2011
Reviewed By: Paula J. Busse, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Back  |  Top
About Us
Contact Us
History
Mission
Locations & Directions
Quality Reports
Annual Reports
Honors & Awards
Community Health Needs
Assessment

Newsroom
Services
Brain & Spine
Cancer
Heart
Maternity
Orthopedics
Pulmonary
Sleep Medicine
Urgent Care
Women's Services
All Services
Patients & Visitors
Locations & Directions
Find a Physician
Tour St. Luke's
Patient & Visitor Information
Contact Us
Payment Options
Financial Assistance
Send a Card
Mammogram Appointments
Health Tools
My Personal Health
mystlukes
Spirit of Women
Health Information & Tools
Clinical Trials
Health Risk Assessments
Employer Programs -
Passport to Wellness

Classes & Events
Classes & Events
Spirit of Women
Donate & Volunteer
Giving Opportunities
Volunteer
Physicians & Employees
For Physicians
Remote Access
Medical Residency Information
Pharmacy Residency Information
Physician CPOE Training
Careers
Careers
St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile