By Cristina Porch-Curren, M.D. As a physician I can’t tell you how often I am...
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One of the marvels of the human body is that it can defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria. In some people, the body reacts to harmless substances such as dust, mold or pollen by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When patients with one of the allergic diseases (such as rhinitis or asthma) are exposed to these substances, the immune system then rallies its defenses, launching a host of complex chemical weapons to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced.
Hundreds or even thousands of ordinary substances can trigger allergic reactions. These are called “allergens.” Among the most common are plant pollens, molds, household dust (dust mites), animal dander, industrial chemicals, foods, medicines and insect stings.
An allergic reaction may occur anywhere in the body, but usually appears in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs — places where special immune system cells are stationed to fight off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed or come in contact with the skin.
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Tip from Our Allergists
We want to help you help yourself.
It is our belief that the first line of defense against allergy is environmental control. Scientific studies over the last several years have shown which environmental control measures are effective and which are not. The advice given here is based on those studies. By following a simple plan, you can significantly decrease your exposure to allergy-causing substances, and significantly improve your health. In some cases, exposure can be eliminated or decreased to the point that no other treatment is necessary. In other cases exposure can be decreased only partially, making other types of treatment necessary. But even in those situations, less treatment will be required, and it will work better if you have first decreased exposure. If an individual is allergic to one or more substances, the sum total of exposures at a given time (the “total allergen load”) determines whether or not the person’s threshold has been reached and will cause symptoms.[Read More]
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