Generic Health Relevance

An allergic reaction is the hypersensitive response of the immune system to a usually harmless substance. Normally, the immune system will destroy a foreign substance, or antigen, without any outward signs or symptoms. However, sometimes the immune system overreacts and releases excessive antibodies in response to these antigens (allergens) triggering an inflammatory response in the body. Allergic reactions can happen to any one person at any time in his or her life for a wide variety of reasons. Common allergens are airborne (pollen, mold, dust mites), food (dairy, eggs, wheat), insect stings (bees, wasps), medications (penicillin), plants (poison ivy), and industrial products (latex). Allergies usually cause a person to have annoying and uncomfortable symptoms, like a runny nose, itchy eyes, or skin irritations. However, occasionally a person may suffer a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening form of shock.

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