Overview

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander — or a food that doesn't cause a reaction in most people.

Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn't. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system's reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can't be cured, treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.

July 27, 2017
References
  1. Allergy overview. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  2. Allergic reactions. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-reactions.aspx. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  3. Seidman MD, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. 2015;152:S1.
  4. Allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  5. Allergies and hay fever. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/allergies-and-hay-fever. Accessed May 28, 2017.
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  8. Who has allergies? American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies/who-has-allergies. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  9. What causes asthma? American Lung Association. http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/asthma-symptoms-causes-risk-factors/what-causes-asthma.html. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  10. Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis and rhinosinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/allergic-rhinitis-sinusitis-and-rhinosinusitis. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  11. Is rinsing your sinuses with neti pots safe? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm. Accessed May 28, 2017.