Allergies and the Immune System

Allergies and the Immune System

Allergies are disorders of the immune system. Most allergic reactions are dramatic immune system responses designed to "attack" the allergen. Read the Allergies and the Immune System Overview ›

Is It an Allergy or a Cold?

Seasonal allergies and colds have similar symptoms but some important differences. The following information from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) can help you determine if you're suffering from allergies or a cold.

Symptoms are more common in the spring, summer and early fall:

  • Runny or stuffy nose, mucus is generally clear and watery

  • Bouts of sneezing, often brought on by exposure to offending agent

  • Wheezing, most frequently seen in individuals with asthma; wheezing is unusual in people without asthma

  • Watery eyes, with whites of eyes possibly reddened or bloodshot

  • Fluid-filled and puffy areas around the eyes

  • In young children, "allergic shiners," a darkened appearance around the eyes cause by congestion of blood in the blood vessels

  • In young children, a frequent "allergic salute," or the habit of wiping the nose upward with the palm of the hand; this can lead to an "allergic crease," a prominent horizontal crease across the nose at the end of cartilage that is produced by repeated "allergic salutes"

Learn to Spot the Difference Between a Cold and Hay Fever

Coping with Food Allergies

For someone with a food allergy, eating the problem food triggers an abnormal response from the body's immune system.

The most common foods that cause an allergic reaction in adults are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, fruits, and soy and wheat products. Children with a food allergy tend to react to eggs, milk or peanuts.

Although many people believe they have a food allergy, true food allergies are not that common. Only about 3 percent of children and 1 percent of adults have proven allergies to food, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Why Food Allergies are Less Common than You Think

Prevention of Asthma and Allergy Attacks

According to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases asthma triggers may be as varied as sensitivity to medication, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergens, infections and even emotional anxiety. Get the Asthma Trigger List ›

Prepare for Your Appointment

With just 13 minutes on average to meet with your doctor, pre-visit planning is important to your overall care experience. Get better results by following the ABCs of doctor visits: Arrive early. Be prepared. Communicate. Your doctor appreciates the active role you are taking in your health. Search HealthGrades for Top Rated Local Allergists and Immunologists ›

Decision Guides for Allergic and Immunological Symptoms

Nearly all people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have a positive (abnormal) ANA -- that is, the sensitivity of the ANA for SLE is quite high. That also means that it is very rare to have lupus with a negative (normal) ANA. However, there are other arthritic, autoimmune and rheumatic conditions that have a negative ANA. This decision guide is designed for persons with a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) who would like to find out more about this test and what the test result may mean. Not everyone with a positive ANA has a disease. In fact, specificity is low, meaning that many healthy people have a positive result. Begin Your Guide to Positive ANA ›

Your Guide to Allergies and the Immune System