|fyi:Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in America with an annual cost exceeding $18 billion. Allergies are believed to complicate and even handicap the lives of nearly 50 million children and adults.
Allergies reflect an overreaction of the immune system to substances that usually cause no reaction in most individuals. These substances can trigger sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itching. Allergies are not only bothersome, but many have been linked to a variety of common and serious chronic respiratory illnesses (such as sinusitis and asthma). Additionally, allergic reactions can be severe and even fatal. However, with proper management and patient education, allergic diseases can be controlled, and people with allergies can lead normal and productive lives.
Like baldness, height and eye color, the capacity to become allergic is an inherited characteristic. Yet, although you may be born with the genetic capability to become allergic, you are not automatically allergic to specific allergens. Several factors must be present for allergic sensitivity to be developed:
The specific genes acquired from parents.
The exposure to one or more allergens to which you have a genetically programmed response.
The degree and length of exposure.
Above excerpts taken from Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America website.