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Doctors call those annoying irritants – pollens, mold, animal dander, certain foods – “allergens.”

Allergens, which by themselves are usually harmless, cause allergies; more than one in five Americans suffer from them.

Allergies occur when you encounter “triggers,” which may involve inhaling, swallowing, or making skin contact with allergens.

Your body produces IgE, a protein to counteract the allergic reaction. The protein grabs the allergen, which causes your body to release histamine into your blood.

The increased histamine level produces the symptoms, which include:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Feeling tired or ill

Symptoms of skin allergies include rashes and hives.

Treatment may involve taking antihistamines or decongestants. Nasal sprays also may help.

Doctors may prescribe an inhaler to manage allergy-induced asthma, or they may inject you with special antibodies to reduce symptoms.

Allergy shots help alleviate symptoms that don’t respond to conventional treatment. Shots help target hay fever and allergic reactions.

Tips adapted from WebMD

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