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As someone who has spent most of his life dealing with allergies and allergy related symptoms, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the allergy basics. This material has been provided by WebMD Medical Reference in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic. Keep in mind that in many cases, allergy injections are covered at 100% by your health care provider under preventative care.

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. People who have allergies have a hyper-alert immune system that overreacts to a substance in the environment called an allergen. Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance, such as a pollen, causes the immune system to react as if the substance is harmful.

Allergies are a very common problem, affecting at least 2 out of every 10 Americans.

Does Everyone Have Allergies?

No. Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. People inherit a tendency to be allergic, although not to any specific allergen. When one parent is allergic, their child has a 50% chance of having allergies. That risk jumps to 75% if both parents have allergies.

Allergy Triggers

There are a number of different allergy-causing substances. The most common include pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex and certain food and medication. If you have an allergy, your symptoms can range from mild eye irritation and congestion to a more severe reaction causing generalized swelling and difficulty breathing.

And if you have asthma, a reaction to any offending allergy-causing substance, can worsen your allergy symptoms. Still there are steps you can take to prevent and treat allergy attacks when they occur. Your doctor is the best source for those.

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