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Are allergies caused by the immune system?

ANSWER

Seasonal allergies are caused by an abnormal response by the immune system.

Allergy symptoms happen when your immune system reacts to something harmless, like pollen, pet dander, or mold. Your body sees the allergen as an invader and attacks it, giving you a runny nose and itchy eyes.

People can inherit a tendency toward allergies; if you have allergies, your children have a greater chance of also having allergies, although they may be allergic to different things.

Allergies are treated by avoiding your allergy triggers and taking medication to control symptoms. For some people, allergy shots may be an option. Over a period of time, usually several years, allergy shots may help your immune system get used to the allergen, so that it doesn't produce the bothersome allergy symptoms.

SOURCES:

Glasser, R. Nature Reviews: Immunology, March 2005.

WebMD Feature: "Top 12 Flu Myths."

WebMD Medical Reference in Collaboration with Cleveland Clinic: "Allergy Shots."

WebMD Health News: "Cautious Optimism Over Cancer Vaccine."

Brigham and Women's Hospital: "Drinking Tea May Boost Immune System."

FamilyDoctor.org: "When Your Infant or Child Has a Fever."

The Cleveland Clinic: "Diet, Exercise, Stress and the Immune System."

Harvard Health Report: "The Truth About Your Immune System."

Rowe, C. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, October 2007.

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on January 15, 2020

SOURCES:

Glasser, R. Nature Reviews: Immunology, March 2005.

WebMD Feature: "Top 12 Flu Myths."

WebMD Medical Reference in Collaboration with Cleveland Clinic: "Allergy Shots."

WebMD Health News: "Cautious Optimism Over Cancer Vaccine."

Brigham and Women's Hospital: "Drinking Tea May Boost Immune System."

FamilyDoctor.org: "When Your Infant or Child Has a Fever."

The Cleveland Clinic: "Diet, Exercise, Stress and the Immune System."

Harvard Health Report: "The Truth About Your Immune System."

Rowe, C. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, October 2007.

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on January 15, 2020

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