Supporting members with allergies
What is an allergy?
An allergy is caused by the body's reaction to a substance that it recognises as "foreign". This foreign substance is called an allergen (antigen), or allergenic substance.
Common allergens include
- Food such as nuts, eggs, milk, fish and shellfish;
- Medications such as antibiotics (penicillin);
- Environmental allergens such as pollen, house dust and animals. Although not an allergen, chemical fumes can exacerbate asthma
- Insect bites such as from bees, wasps and hornets;
- Other compounds including rubber (latex).
The body responds to an allergenic exposure by releasing chemicals, particularly histamine, which cause inflammation of the body tissues. The amount of histamine, and where in the body it is released, accounts for the different types and degrees of allergic reactions encountered.