Allergies are exaggerated immune responses to contact with environmental substances (allergens) that typically do not provoke an immune reaction. Inhalant allergens (such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander and fur, and molds) predominantly produce respiratory symptoms. Ingested allergens (foods) often lead to digestive, cutaneous, or generalized complaints.
The manifestations of allergies can be:
– Mild: affecting a single organ, characterized by redness, skin rash, itching, tearing, sneezing, and a runny nose.
– Moderate: symptoms spreading to other parts of the body, including a sensation of shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
– Severe: affecting the entire body, with multiple manifestations ranging from respiratory problems to abdominal cramps, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. These are characteristic of anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Substances that can cause allergic reactions include plant pollen, kitchen cockroaches, latex, household dust mites, animal hair, foods, molds, insect bites, and medications.