Breathe Easy

Allergy

Allergies are one of the most common health issues, affecting more than 50 million Americans each year. Allergic reactions can be triggered by dust and pollen in the air, the foods we eat, or exposure to certain chemical substances.

What Causes Allergies?

When you breathe in, swallow or touch something you’re allergic to, your immune system reacts to this normally harmless substance as if it was an invader. This process is called an allergic reaction, and the substances that can activate allergies are called allergens. Your body’s defensive response to dust, pollen, pet dandruff or certain chemicals produces allergy symptoms.

 

Types of Allergies

How Are Allergies Diagnosed?

  • Skin tests include a skin prick test, also called puncture or scratch test, that checks for an immediate allergic reaction.
  • Skin patch testing checks for a slower reaction.
  • Blood tests check for immunoglobulin E, an immune system antibody associated with allergic reactions.
  • Provocation tests expose the nose, mouth or lungs to a tiny amount of a suspected allergen under carefully controlled conditions. This procedure is only performed when other tests aren’t conclusive.