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Dealing With Allergies

Allergies are abnormal, immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people.

Allergic reactions can be mild, like a runny nose or severe, like difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, for example, is often an allergic reaction to something that is breathed into the lungs of a person who is susceptible.

Some types of allergies produce multiple symptoms. And in rare cases, an allergic reaction can become very severe.

This severe reaction is called anaphylaxis (ah-nuh-fuh-lak-sis). Some of the signs of anaphylaxis are difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, loss of consciousness as well as swelling of the lips, tongue and throat or other parts of the body.

Anaphylaxis usually occurs minutes after exposure to a triggering substance, but some reactions may be delayed by as long as four hours.

Luckily, anaphylactic reactions don’t occur often and can be treated successfully if proper procedures are followed.

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Hives

Hives are usually an allergic reaction to food or medicine. They are raised, often itchy red welts on the surface of the skin.

When you have an allergic reaction to a substance, histamine and other chemicals are released into your bloodstream, causing itching, swelling and other symptoms.

Hives are a common reaction, especially in people with other allergies like hay fever.

When swelling or welts occur around the face, especially the lips and eyes, it is called angioedema; swelling from angioedema can also occur around your hands, feet and throat.

Many substances can trigger hives:

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