The terms Allergy and Hypersensitivity are synonymous although allergy is often used to describe the immediate hypersensitivity reactions and atopic diseases.

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Hypersensitivity can be defined as tissue damage resulting from an immune response. It may result from the induction of an inappropriate pattern of immunity for example an environmental agent which is totally harmless. It can also occur when the immune response to any invader such as a virus not only destroys the offending agent but incidentally produces damage to adjacent tissues.

The most common allergens found to trigger an allergic reaction are NICKEL present in jewelry, DICHROMATE present in cement and leather, RUBBER CHEMICALS as in clothes and shoes, COLOPHONY in sticking plaster, PARAPHENYLENEDIAMINE present in hair dyes, BALSAM OF PERU in perfumes and citrus fruits, WOOL ALCOHOLS present in lanolin and cosmetics, PARABENS present in cosmetics and creams as a preservative, EPOXY RESIN PRESENT IN ADDITIVES, NEOMYCIN AND BENZOCAINE .present in topical applications.

In addition to these naturally occurring and chemical substances there are some other factors which can also trigger an allergic reaction such as pollution and some medicinal components such as aspirin, penicillin and Sulphonamides .Some common food items are also found to be allergens to few individual such as egg, cow’s milk, fish and peanut. Apart from it any substance can trigger an abnormal hypersensitivity reaction in any given individual. The signs of a typical allergic reaction are rashes, itching, hives, watery eyes and nasal congestion. A more severe reaction may present with swollen face, eyes and tongue, difficulty in swallowing, abdominal pain, anxiety, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, weakness and dizziness, tightness in chest, difficulty in breathing and unconsciousness.

Other sources of information for these topics.

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
Has a wide variety of information on these disorders. You can search the site in several areas.

Welcome to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
FAAN is a nonprofit organization providing education about food allergy to peanuts, nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.

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