Search this site:


FCIC: Allergies
  Return to Savvy Consumer Information Center - Home Page   


(.pdf version)

An allergy is when your body reacts to something that does not bother most other people. For example, they may have a reaction to pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander, food or medication. When they come in contact with these things their immune system releases chemicals such as histamine. These chemicals are responsible for their symptoms. People can be allergic to many different things, such as:

About 35 million Americans suffer from allergies to pollen. (Pollen is a powder made by flowering plants and trees.) Pollen allergy is also known as hay fever. It is one of the most common allergies. When we think of hay fever, we think of spring. But pollen grains can be in the air in the spring, summer, and fall. It just depends on the type of tree, grass, or weed.

Why do some people have allergies?

Symptoms of Allergies

What kinds of tests check for allergies?

The two main types of allergy tests are:

Both tests look for certain disease-fighting cells (antibodies). Your body makes these cells to match whatever it is fighting. Your antibodies tell doctors what you are allergic to.

How are allergies treated?

There is no cure for allergies. So people just have to learn to cope with them. Here are some choices for dealing with them:

Avoid the things that trigger allergies. (This is the best treatment.)

Allergies vs. Colds

  Allergies Colds
Symptoms Running or stuffed nose, sneezing, wheezing, watery and itchy eyes Can include fever and aches and pains along with allergy symptoms
Warning Time Symptoms begin right after you are exposed Usually takes a few days
Duration Symptoms last as long as you are around the allergen Symptoms should clear up within several days to a week.

Should I move to another part of the country?

To Learn More:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
1-800-822-2762 (1-800-822-ASMA)

For information on air-cleaning devices:

Environmental Protection Agency

FDA Office of Women's Health
October 2003

  Return to Savvy Consumer Information Center - Home Page   
Search this site:

Get the Savvy Consumer Newsletter! (FREE)