Allergies / Allergic Rhinitis

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Allergies are a common condition involving an abnormal response of the immune system triggered by a typically harmless substance. This substance (such as pollen, mold or animal dander) is known as an allergen. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their body produces antibodies and releases a variety of chemicals, including histamine. Histamine is the main cause of most allergy symptoms.

Allergic reactions usually result in mild symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching or rashes. Moderate or severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, are rare but can be life-threatening and cause abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting and dizziness. For some patients, allergies can be seasonal and only cause reactions during certain times of the year. This condition is known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever and is usually caused by pollen and other allergens that are in the air from March until November.

Allergy treatments are usually prescribed in the form of over-the-counter or prescription medication. Antihistamines prevent the reaction caused by the release of histamine and help reduce symptoms as well. Decongestants unblock nasal passages and improve breathing. Nasal sprays keep the nasal passages clean and moist and limit the reaction to allergens. But the most effective treatment in relieving allergy symptoms is simply to avoid the allergen.

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