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What are allergies?

Allergies or allergic reactions are immune system reactions to substances that are typically harmless to most people but cause a response in individuals with heightened sensitivity. When the immune system mistakenly identifies typically harmless substances as harmful invaders it produces antibodies, such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), to neutralize them. These antibodies remain in your system, primed to react if they encounter the allergen again.

Allergy symptoms can range anywhere from mild to severe depending on the substance causing the allergy, an individual’s susceptibility and the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, contact).

Allergies can develop at any age, but they often begin in childhood. Early exposure to certain environmental factors might influence allergy development. Having a family history of allergies increases your risk of developing allergies to certain triggers.

While allergies aren't currently curable, effective management strategies exist. Identifying and avoiding triggers is usually the first line of defense.