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Allergies and the Family

  • By: Alessandra Padula
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Allergy is a hypersensitivity to an allergen, a normally harmless substance. In an allergic subject, an allergen may cause an untoward reaction when it comes into contact with the skin or the eyes, is inhaled, eaten, or injected. When individuals with allergies come into contact with specific allergens, their immune systems identify these allergens as dangerous invaders, and their immune systems overreact. It triggers the release of histamines and other chemicals, whose task is to expel allergens from the body. The symptoms of an allergic reaction are precisely the results of the body's attempts to turn away the allergen: These symptoms may affect the eyes, nose, lungs, throat, ears, sinuses, skin, and/or mucous membranes.

Managing allergy can be very challenging for a patient and his or ...

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