An allergy is a hypersensitive immune response to a substance called an allergen.
An allergy is a hypersensitive immune response to a substance called an allergen. Most allergens are harmless, but there are some that can prove life threatening if not immediately treated. Each person may have a different allergic response to any number of allergens. Substances such as pet dander, mold, insect venom and pollen are common allergens. Some people may even have a reaction to materials like latex, wool, or cotton. The most common forms of allergens can be found in the pollen from plants and flowers, foods and beverages, insect bites or stings, or pet dander. While hay fever is the most commonly known allergy, food allergies are becoming much more prevalent. When a person has an allergic reaction, the body fights the allergen as if it were a pathogen and tries to eliminate it from the system. An acute reaction to an allergen results in anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition which requires immediate emergency care. Allergies can be treated with over-thecounter medications, prescription medicines such as inhalers, or through shots administered by a physician.