Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What are allergens?

A substance or agent that causes an allergic reaction. Allergens provoke the IMMUNE SYSTEM when it senses an allergen as a foreign substance and overreacts. This “hypersensitivity” may be immediate, when symptoms appear within minutes to several hours after exposure, or it can be delayed, when symptoms appear hours after exposure or longer.
At the top of the list of food allergens are DAIRY products, PEANUTS, nuts (e.g., HAZELNUTS, CASHEWS), GRAINS (especially WHEAT and CORN), SOYBEAN products, CITRUS FRUITS, and SHELLFISH. The binders and other ingredients of vitamin supplements, as well as HERBS and SPICES, can cause reactions in suscep susceptible individuals. Prescription drugs (including penicillin), antisera, and constituents of infectious agents (including bacteria and viruses, yeast, and parasites) can be allergens. Physical agents, including radiation, heat, and pressure may also provoke inflammation, an aspect of the immune response. In provoking an immune response, allergens typically react with ANTIBODIES, protective proteins formed by specialized cells of the immune system.

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