Two recent articles in the New York Times were related to allergies. One brief article agreed that allergies to pollen may lead to food allergies. A longer article discussed an experimental treatment for peanut allergy.


An allergy is your body’s mistaken over-reaction to a common environmental or food source. The source of the allergic reaction is called an allergen or a trigger. Your body mistakenly responds to the allergen as if it were a threat. Your body tries to attack and destroy the allergen by producing antibodies. The antibodies trigger your body to produce histamine. The histamine causes your symptoms.


  • Symptoms may include:
  • A runny nose (rhinitis)
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Hives (urticaria)
  • A rash
  • Inflammation, redness or swelling
  • Gastro-intestinal upsets such as diarrhea or vomiting


Angioedema is swelling of the tissues below the skin. It can be very serious when this occurs in your throat and mouth.


A severe and life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. This is a reaction that affects your whole body. It is a true emergency and requires immediate medical attention.


While allergy symptoms are cause by an allergen, the underlying cause is an over-sensitive immune system. This over-sensitivity is hereditary.


Allergies can be treated or controlled. The type of treatment depends on the specific allergy and its symptoms.


For more information about allergies see:



American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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