What is Allergy?
Although the term "allergy" has been widely used in the medical profession and the public for many decades, knowledge about the nature of allergies and their wide range and implications is still in its infancy. Many people continue to think that allergies are limited to a group of symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, hives and asthma or hay fever. Fortunately there are a growing number of health professionals that are willing to see that there may be an allergic factor in most illnesses and disorders.
The root of the word allergy comes from combining the Greek word allos, which means altered, and ergion, which means action or reactivity. Allos/ergion literally means "altered reactivity", that is a biological hypersensitivity in certain individuals, which in similar amounts and circumstances are innocuous in most other people. Further, an allergy is an unusual or exaggerated response to certain substances. It is believed to be a normal response that is abnormally exaggerated.
So, allergy is an unusual sensitivity to certain substances. This tendency to react physically to various things is inherited, but may not manifest until some later date. It has been studied and proven that the age of onset of an allergic condition definitely depends on the degree of inheritance; the stronger the genetic factor, the earlier the probable onset. Whenever a body becomes imbalanced, allergic manifestations appear. An imbalance may be caused by any number of things. It may follow a serious accident, a major operation, a childhood disease (whooping cough, chicken pox, etc.), or an emotional shock (loss of a loved one, job or property, childhood molestation, betrayal, battering, child abuse, etc.). Or it may be that a patient has been exposed repeatedly to a particular strong or toxic allergen over a short period of time, so that the body's defense becomes exhausted due to overwork. Symptoms can be worse at certain times of the year, as when there is a pollen allergy. Symptoms can also be more acute at certain locations or under certain conditions. This would be because greater amounts of the offending allergen can be contacted under certain circumstances. Sensitivity to a particular irritant is rarely inherited. It is the tendency to respond or react in an unusual manner that is inherited. The tendency often recurs from one generation to another.
Allergens are generally classified into eight basic categories, depending primarily on the method in which they are contacted, rather than the symptom they produce. They are: inhalants, ingestant, contactants, infectants, physical agents, genetic agents, molds and fungi. Any substance under the sun, including the sun, can cause an allergic reaction in an individual. In our highly technological age, the number of substances that are potentially allergenic is constantly expanding.