Allergies

Allergies at Rivers Hospital

Around one in four people in the UK suffer from an allergy. The term is used to describe a range of different reactions that people experience from various irritants (allergens) such as dust, pollen, or animal dander. These occur when the body’s immune system reacts to these substances as if they were something harmful. Why this happens is unclear, as is why the number of people who suffer with allergies is on the rise each year. One theory is that the more germ free a life we live, the less our body has to deal with, so it overreacts when any “harmful” substance is introduced. Allergies can come on at any point in your life, often with no apparent trigger.

There are also other conditions that can be confused for an allergy. These include intolerance which doesn’t involve the immune system, but can still cause unpleasant symptoms such as reflux (milk is often a common intolerance), and sensitivity which is an exaggeration of the normal effects of the substance, so, for example, mild spice may taste extremely hot or caffeine could lead to palpitations.

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