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About Allergy and Immunology

Allergy and Immunology is the medical subspecialty that focuses on evaluation, diagnosis, and management of allergic diseases and disorders of the immune system. When the immune system has an abnormal reaction to a substance, it produces allergic antibodies, resulting in allergies and asthma. When the immune system malfunctions, it produces antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue in the body, resulting in autoimmune disorders. Immunodeficiency (or immune deficiency) is a state in which the immune system's ability to fight infectious disease is compromised or entirely absent.


An allergy is a hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Allergies affect one out of four people in the United States and are the fifth leading chronic disease among all ages. Allergies can affect anyone of any age or gender.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, and a runny nose. In some cases, it can also cause hives, rashes, and difficulty breathing. When severe, it can even lead to death.

Common allergies include:

  • Environmental Allergies – An allergic response to airborne irritants such as pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. 
  • Food Allergies – Foods that most often trigger an allergic reaction include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, and shellfish.  
  • Allergic Rhinitis – The two types of allergic rhinitis are seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by outdoor allergens such as pollen. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold. 
  • Skin Allergies – A rash or irritation of the skin that occurs in response to ingested foods or medications, or when an allergen touches your skin.  
  • Stinging Insect Allergies – This allergy is due to the venom in bee stings, ant bites, mosquito bites, etc.  
  • Drug Allergies – Allergic reaction is an unwanted side effect of medication. Reactions to antibiotics (penicillin, sulfa, etc.), non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen, Toradol, aspirin, etc.), contrast dye, and blood pressure medications (ACE-inhibitors and diuretics) range from a mild localized rash to serious effects on vital systems. 

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