An allergy is an abnormal reaction to certain substances called allergens. These allergens may be inhaled, swallowed, or come in contact with the skin to trigger a reaction.

Overview and Symptoms

Common allergens include:

  • Environmental allergens such as pollen, animal dander, and dust that can cause allergic reactions like watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing
  • Insect stings from yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, and hornets which, if the person is allergic to the insect's venom, can result in a medical emergency called anaphylaxis
  • Indoor and outdoor mold spores
  • Foods that the body mistakes for something harmful; an allergic reaction to food can affect the skin, stomach and intestines, and breathing
  • Products that contain latex, which may lead to mild or serious allergic reactions
  • Medications may cause allergic reactions that range from mild to serious


Allergy treatment is guided by the type and severity of the allergy. They may include:

  • Avoiding contact with substances that trigger the allergy
  • Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and decongestants
  • Prescription medications in the form of nasal sprays, tablets, or eye drops
  • Allergy shots
  • Other medications to counteract allergic reactions or treat specific symptoms

Division of Allergy & Inflammation

The Division of Allergy & Inflammation specializes in the diagnosis, testing, and management of allergies, asthma and allergic immune system disorders.

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