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The countless people who suffer from allergies know that they are a real inconvenience that can prevent you from living your life. Maybe you're the person who is miserably sneezing and wheezing at the dust mites, while everyone around you feels just great. For a person who suffers from allergies, small things like dust, pollen, and food become the enemy. Allergies can be tough to live with, but there is one weapon that can do more to defeat them than anything else: Knowledge. Knowing a few basic tips and making some minor lifestyle changes can truly make a world of difference in your war on allergies. Here are some of the basics on allergies, and how to battle them and emerge victorious. What Exactly Are Allergies? An allergy is an abnormal reaction from a person's immune system. The substance that triggers the reaction is not typically a damaging one, but the body reacts as if it were. The triggers of allergic reactions can be many different things: House dust, pet dander, pollen, and various foods are some of the more common allergens. Allergies may change over time, and new allergies may develop as well. An allergic reaction is triggered when three factors combine: First, an allergy prone person is exposed to an allergen. This can be as simple as breathing in one time, if the irritant is in the area. Second, the body's natural defense against allergies, Immunoglobulin E, starts trying to fight off the antigen by attaching to the body's mast cells. The third part of the process is what leaves you with watery itchy eyes, breathing problems, and sneezing. In an allergic reaction, the mast cells start releasing massive amount of chemical irritants. These irritants will bring on the allergies. Then, to compound the problem (as if the beginning of the allergy attack were not enough!) the chemical irritants in the body start attracting white blood cells called eosinophils. The function of the eosinophils is to bring even more fun (not!) to the party since they bring additional inflammatory chemicals along with them. What Causes Allergies? We know how allergies happen, and we even know the steps involved in an allergy attack. The question that most allergy sufferers want to know: Why me? What is it that causes one person to be severely allergic while another is able to blissfully ignore allergens with nary a problem? It is still not completely clear why some people have allergies and other do not. Heredity appears to play a big role in many cases, however (Thanks so much, mom and dad!). If you have parents or siblings with allergies, your own chances for having them are much higher. In

some cases, allergy sufferers have no hereditary link, and it is just uncertain why the allergies happen. It is possible that air pollution, and the increasing use of recycled indoors air may be contributing factors. It has also been theorized that the widespread use of antibiotics may be a factor. Since the immune system is not occupied with fighting off serious infections thanks to the antibiotics, it may be more susceptible to less harmful substances like the typical allergens. Allergy Prevention Allergy prevention has to begin with allergy recognition. Once you have determined exactly what you are allergic to, you can practice prevention based on the problem. For environmental allergies such as pollen, simply avoiding exposure is one of the best preventative methods. This will require tracking of the pollen counts, and staying inside if they are unusually high. Keeping all windows closed and running the air conditioner is also a helpful pollen allergy prevention. For those who suffer from dust allergies, there are several small changes you can make inside the home that will help prevent attacks. Using airtight plastic covers that will encase your pillows, mattress, and box spring will keep the dust mites away and allow you to sleep far more peacefully. If you have carpeting in your home, very frequent vacuuming with high efficiency filters will help keep the dust from building up. Changing furnace and air condition filters frequently can help as well. Pet allergies can be prevented by isolating the pet if at all possible, bathing the pet very frequently (Nobody said this part would be fun!), and the use of HEPA filtration air cleaners. The best, and in fact the only, prevention for food allergies is avoidance of the food that causes the allergy. This takes a lot of diligence, and careful analysis of all foods you or your child eats.

Taylor Knight Fellow Allergy Sufferer and Founder of A Blog Dedicated to Recognizing, Preventing and Easing Symptoms for Allergy Sufferers. Visit [] to learn more and/or ask questions about allergies.

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Things You Should Know About Allergies  

An excellent article about allergies

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