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Allergy FAQs 

You probably have questions about allergies and that’s why we’ve answered some of the most common questions below.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is when your immune system reacts to something that is harmless to most people. Generally, your immune system protects you from substances that can make you sick. But if you come into contact with something that your immune system views as a threat, it releases a chemical called histamine. This release of histamine and other substances is what causes allergy symptoms.

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Learn more about allergies 

What causes an allergic reaction?

Hundreds of ordinary substances can cause—or trigger—an allergic reaction. Among the most common things that can cause reactions are plant pollen, food, an insect sting, mold, dust mites, pet dander and medications.

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Learn more about allergy symptoms 

Who can develop an allergy?

Anyone can be affected by allergies, but some are more prone to them than others. Genetic and environmental factors play a role in a person’s susceptibility to developing allergies. While allergies are common in children, they can occur for the first time at any age.

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What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?

Many people confuse food allergies with a food intolerance. They have many similar symptoms, but they’re not the same thing, and the differences between the two are important. Food intolerances usually involve the digestive tract, with uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and cramping, but with no risk of anaphylaxis. However, food allergic reaction could be life-threatening, which makes avoiding the offending food extremely important.

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Learn more about food allergies

Is it possible to outgrow an allergy?

Some children stop reacting to allergens, like milk and egg, as they grow, but allergies to foods like nuts and fish tend to remain. It’s also possible to develop allergies at any age, even as an adult.

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Learn more about growing out of allergies

At what age can you have a blood test to help identify potential allergies?

Anyone experiencing allergy-like symptoms can receive specific IgE (sIgE) blood testing. For babies and very young children, one blood sample collection is often less traumatic than the several scratches of a skin-prick test (SPT).

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Learn more about blood testing 

What are the benefits to having a specific IgE blood test?

Unlike a skin-prick test, a blood test can be performed on anyone no matter the condition of their skin—even during an eczema flare-up. A blood test can also be performed on someone while currently on medication, including antihistamines. It is also safe to perform on someone who is pregnant.

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Learn more about blood testing

How can a blood test help me know if I have allergies?

If you are atopic, or have a predisposition toward developing allergic reactions,

your body may produce an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) that is specific to what causes your allergic reactions. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a protective mechanism that is produced when you exposed to a substance that your body views as a threat. These tests measure the amount of IgE to that specific substance in your blood. Your specific IgE test results are as personal and unique as your fingerprint and your healthcare professional can use your results to identify any underlying allergic triggers that may be contributing to your symptoms. It is a simple blood test that is easier and less risky to perform than a Skin-Prick Test (SPT) or Oral Food Challenge (OFC).

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Learn more about blood testing

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.

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Learn more about asthma

What causes asthma?

Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. The majority of people who have asthma suffer from allergies, too.1-3 Plus, allergies can trigger your asthma or make it worse. In fact, up to 90% of children and 60% of adults have allergies that may make their asthma worse.4,5 When allergies either trigger or worsen asthma, it’s known as allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma.

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Learn more about asthma

Who develops asthma?

Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic status can be affected by asthma.

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Learn more about asthma

Can asthma be cured?

There is no cure for asthma, so your best defense is to learn if you have underlying triggers and then limit your exposure to them. And while there’s a strong connection between allergies and asthma, there are many other triggers to be aware of, too. Some of the most common non-allergenic triggers are cold or dry air, exercise, exposure to cigarette smoke or strong scents, the flu and other respiratory infections. 

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Learn more about asthma

Can reducing exposure to my allergic triggers help my asthma?

Yes. Reducing exposure to one or more of your allergic triggers may help reduce your symptoms. This can only be accomplished by working with your healthcare professional to understand your unique allergy profile.

Still curious?

Learn more about asthma

References
  1. Roberts G, Levi-Schaffer F, Gideon Lack, FRCPCH. Food allergy as a risk factor for life-threatening asthma in childhood: A case-controlled study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112:168-174. 
  2. Liu AH, Levi-Schaffer F, Gideon Lack, FRCPCH. Food allergy as a risk factor for life-threatening asthma in childhood: A case-controlled study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126:798-806 e13. 
  3. Murray CS, Poletti, G, Kebadze T et al. Study of modifiable risk factors for asthma exacerbations :virus infection  and allergen exposure increase the risk of asthma hospital admissions in children. Thorax. 2006;61:376-382. 
  4. Allen-Ramey F, Schoenwetter W, Weiss T et al. Sensitization to Common Allergens in Adults with Asthma. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2005;18(5):434-439. 
  5. Host A,Halken. S. The role of allergy in in childhood asthma. Allergy. 2000;55:600-608.