An allergen is any foreign substance that elicits a strong immune response in the body, resulting in allergy symptoms. It’s possible for almost any organic substance to be an allergen to a certain individual, with some allergens being more common than others. Severity of the allergic response also depends on the individual.
There are a number of broad categories common allergens can be sorted into. Many people are allergic to animals such as cats or dogs. They can be allergic to a specific protein found in the skin, fur, saliva or dander. Some people can tolerate certain “hypoallergenic” breeds of common pets they may be allergic to.
Dust is another very common allergen. The majority of dust allergies are caused by dust mites, microscopic organisms that live and feed on dust. Digestive enzymes found in their feces are a major cause of asthma and irritation. This allergen can be best controlled by maintaining a clean living area, replacing carpeting with solid flooring, maintaining a low humidity indoors and frequently washing fabrics thoroughly.
Food allergies are often very dangerous and can be difficult to avoid, due to cross contamination or foods that utilize many ingredients or derivatives of allergen foods. A number of food allergies that are very common are often referred to as priority allergens and include eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, seafood, sesame, soy, sulphites, tree nuts and wheat. Many people with severe food allergies carry special shots full of epinephrine in case of accidental ingestion, in order to avoid entering anaphylactic shock.
A large portion of the population also suffers from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies usually begin in the spring and are linked to the emergence of pollen in the air and other natural phenomena of spring. Most seasonal allergies are easily treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, eye drops and nasal sprays. Another allergy brought about by the change of seasons is insect bites and stings. Bee stings are a very common allergen and can be very dangerous to those affected.
Mold is an allergen that can cause asthma and other allergy symptoms, often increasing during the winter months. It grows most commonly in cool, damp places such as basements. Anyone experiencing allergy symptoms year-round should consider having their home tested for mold.
Medical allergies to drugs can be life threatening and many sufferers elect to wear a medical alert bracelet to warn of their condition in case the drug is ever being considered in an emergency context. Penicillin, an antibiotic, is a common medical allergy.by