Allergy and Clinical Immunology

An allergy is an overreaction by the immune system to something that the body normally tolerates. The substance that causes the reaction is called an allergen. Common allergens include pollen, dust, insect bites, and certain foods.

Allergens only cause reactions in people who are allergic to them. Allergic reactions depend on specific responses by the immune system to things in the environment.

In high-risk patients, avoidance of certain things that tend to cause these reactions can sometimes help prevent them. Once an allergy starts, avoidance is a mainstay of therapy.

Most children with allergies tend to inherit them from one or both parents. Although allergies may only be noticed later in life, they usually begin during childhood.

Common symptoms of allergies include:

  • Coughing
  • Dripping
  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

How we make contact with allergens

  • Contacted by the skin (dust, animal dander, and even foods)
  • Ingested or taken in by mouth (foods, drinks, and medications)
  • Inhaled through the nose and lungs (pollens, house dust, and animal danders)
  • Injected through the skin (insect stings and injected medications)

Common allergic conditions

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Childhood asthma and wheezing
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Food allergies
  • Hereditary and acquired angioedema
  • Hives
  • Immunodeficiencies and recurrent infections
  • Latex allergy
  • Pollen, animal dander, mold and mite allergies
  • Reactions to stinging insects
  • Suspected allergic reactions to drugs
  • Urticaria

Allergy support group

We offer a food allergy support group for parents that meets quarterly at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.

For more information, contact the CHaD Family Center.