An allergen is a substance that can trigger an allergic reaction. When we say we are allergic to something, it means that our immune system has an exaggerated reaction to certain common substances, specifically proteins – allergens. In this case, our immune system recognizes allergens as foreign or dangerous. As a result of this reaction, the immune system produces a specific type of antibody – immunoglobulin E (IgE) – to defend against the allergens. This immune response leads to what we call allergy symptoms, which can range from mild to life-threatening.

Allergies are quite common and can occur in anyone, starting from birth. The likelihood of having or developing an allergy is higher if your parents have specific allergies.

Common allergens include:

  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Various medications
  • Various food proteins (such as eggs, peanuts, milk, nuts, soy, fish, animal meat, and wheat)
  • Mold spores
  • Insect and mite feces
  • Insect bites and stings (their venom)
  • Natural latex rubber
  • Pollen

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