What is an allergy?

What is an allergy? 2018-02-28T10:31:31+00:00

What is an allergy?

Allergy symptoms occur when a person’s immune system reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless for most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in house dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, moulds, foods and some medicines.

The allergen binds to the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. When this happens, the mast cell breaks open to release inflammatory substances, e.g. histamine, which quickly travels through your body to fight off what it senses as harmful. The histamine affects the body tissue and causes an inflammation. This inflammation is what you experience as an ‘allergy’.

The most common allergy symptoms can simply make you uncomfortable. For example, you may have watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, a rash or hives. Other more serious symptoms, like trouble breathing and swelling in your mouth or throat, may be a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis caused by insect stings, food, or drug allergies.