Allergy (Allergies)

  • Medical Author:
    Allison Ramsey, MD

    Dr. Allison Ramsey earned her undergraduate degree at Colgate University and her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her internal medicine training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and remained at the university to complete her fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology. Dr. Ramsey is board certified in internal medicine and allergy and immunology. Her professional interests include the treatment of drug allergy and eosinophilic disorders. She also enjoys teaching medical trainees. She is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the New York State Allergy Society, and the Finger Lakes Allergy Society. In her personal life, her interests include exercise, especially running and horseback riding; and spending time with her husband and two children.

  • Coauthor: Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD
    Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD

    After growing up in the Rochester area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children's Hospital of Denver.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideAllergy: What Happens in a Nasal Allergy Attack

Allergy: What Happens in a Nasal Allergy Attack

What causes allergies?

A common scenario can help explain how allergies develop. A few months after the new cat arrives in the house, dad begins to have itchy eyes and episodes of sneezing. One of the three children develops coughing and wheezing. The mom and the other two children experience no reaction whatsoever despite the presence of the cat. How can this occur?

The immune system is the body's organized defense mechanism against foreign invaders, particularly infections. Its job is to recognize and react to these foreign substances, which are called antigens. Antigens often lead to an immune response through the production of antibodies, which are protective proteins that are specifically targeted against particular antigens. These antibodies, or immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM, and IgA), are protective and help destroy a foreign particle by attaching to its surface, thereby making it easier for other immune cells to destroy it. The allergic person however, develops a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, in response to certain normally harmless foreign substances, such as cat dander. Other antigens, such as bacteria, do not lead to production of IgE, and therefore do not cause allergic reactions. Once IgE is formed, it can recognize the antigen, such as cat dander, and can then trigger an allergic response. IgE was discovered and named in 1967 by Kimishige and Teriko Ishizaka. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/18/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Fiocchi A, Assa'ad A, Bahna S; Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Food allergy and the introduction of solid foods to infants: a consensus document. Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006 Jul;97(1):10-20; quiz 21, 77.

Price D, Bond C, Bouchard J, Costa R, Keenan J, Levy ML, Orru M, Ryan D, Walker S, Watson M. International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) Guidelines: management of allergic rhinitis. Prim Care Respir J. 2006 Feb;15(1):58-70. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Food allergy: a practice parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006 Mar;96(3 Suppl 2):S1-68. No abstract available.

Flinterman AE, Pasmans SG, Hoekstra MO, Meijer Y, van Hoffen E, Knol EF, Hefle SL, Bruijnzeel-Koomen CA, Knulst AC. Determination of no-observed-adverse-effect levels and eliciting doses in a representative group of peanut-sensitized children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Feb;117(2):448-54.

Scibilia J, Pastorello EA, Zisa G, Ottolenghi A, Bindslev-Jensen C, Pravettoni V, Scovena E, Robino A, Ortolani C. Wheat allergy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Feb;117(2):433-9.

Medically Reviewed By: Ellen Reich, MD, Board Certified in Allergy and Immunology, Board Certified in Pediatrics and Michael Manning, MD, of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

IMAGES:

1. Bigstock

2. Charles Daghlian, Getty Images/ScienceFoto, iStock

3. MedicineNet

4. iStock

5. MedicineNet, iStock

6. Bigstock

7. Bigstock

8. iStock

9. Bigstock

10. iStock

11. iStock

12. iStock

13. Mikael Häggström

14. Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College

15. iStock, Getty Images, iStock

16. Getty Images/Hemera

17. iStock, Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

18. iStock, Pollinator

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Allergies - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with allergies.

    Post View 55 Comments
  • Allergies - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your allergies?

    Post View 35 Comments
  • Allergies - Causes

    What causes your allergy symptoms? What are you allergic to?

    Post View 8 Comments
  • Allergies - Asthma

    Do you have asthma along with your allergies?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Allergies - Food

    Have you ever experienced anaphylaxis due to a food allergy?

    Post View 1 Comment

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors