Allergies Health Center

More than half of the entire population of the United States, 150 million individuals, test positive for one or more allergen. Allergic responses are caused when the body's immune system has a reaction called hypersensitivity, causing the body to release inflammatory proteins into the body. 

Allergens are triggers that cause the body's immune system to react defensively, fighting what it believes to be harmful even though it is not. Allergens can include substances such as pollen, dander, bee venom, certain medications and various foods. 

Symptoms may include mild reactions such as sneezing, coughing, skin irritation and a runny nose to more serious reactions such as indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, an extreme, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur in response to allergies to drugs, bee stings or food that can cause a patient's airway to close up due to swelling. 

Medication treatments include many over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin, and prescription medications, like steroids (AeroBid, Flonase, Advair) and anti-leukotrienes (Singulair, Accolate). Diagnoses are made through blood tests or skin tests. 

Review Date: 
June 27, 2012
Last Updated:
June 2, 2014