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Allergic reactions

Related Terms

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Background

  • Allergic reactions are sensitivities to a specific substance, called an allergen, which is contacted through the skin, inhaled into the lungs, swallowed, or injected. They are fairly common; approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease, and the incidence is increasing.
  • Some allergic reactions may be mild enough to treat at home while others are severe and life-threatening. First time exposure to a potential allergen may only produce a mild reaction, but once a person is sensitized, repeated exposure may lead to more severe reactions.
  • An allergic reaction may be a side effect of drugs, certain foods or drinks, various chemicals or environmental factors, which involves immunologic mechanisms (the immune system's distinction of self from nonself). Common allergens may include: plants, pollens, animal danders, bee stings, insect bites, medications, nuts and shellfish.
  • Certain agents are most often responsible for allergic reactions in surgical patients. These include neuromuscular blocking agents, latex, colloids, hypnotics, antibiotics, benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety agents), opioids (often used to treat pain or for sleep induction), local anesthetics, intravenous (IV) contrast media (a diagnostic tool), and blood products. The antibiotics most commonly associated with allergic reactions are the sulfonamides, penicillins, and cephalosporins.
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Classification of Allergic Reactions

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.