Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD
After growing up in the Rochester area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children's Hospital of Denver.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Allergy facts
- Allergy overview
- What is an allergy?
- What causes allergies?
- Who is at risk for allergies and why?
- What are common allergic conditions and what are allergy symptoms and signs?
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Allergic eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Hives (urticaria)
- Allergic shock (anaphylaxis)
- Where are allergens?
- In the air we breathe
- In what we ingest
- Touching our skin
- Injected into our body
- Common Allergy Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Quiz on Allergies
- Allergy Proof Your Home Slideshow
- Allergies FAQs
- Find a local Asthma & Allergy Specialist in your town
Allergic shock (anaphylaxis)
Allergic shock (anaphylaxis) is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can affect a number of organs at the same time. Allergens that typically lead to anaphylaxis are foods, medications, and venom (bee stings). Aeroallergens rarely lead to anaphylaxis. Some or all of the following symptoms may occur:
- Nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes
- Swelling of the tongue and/or throat
- Abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing
- Low blood pressure leading to lightheadedness, passing out, or shock
Anaphylactic shock occurs when blood vessels enlarge excessively due to an allergic reaction, which causes a significant drop in blood pressure. This can result in inadequate blood flow to the organs in the body and is an emergent, life-threatening condition.
Where are allergens?
We have seen that allergens are special types of antigens that cause allergic reactions through the IgE antibody. Allergens may be inhaled, ingested (eaten or swallowed), applied to the skin, or injected into the body either as a medication or inadvertently by an insect sting. The symptoms and conditions that result depend largely on the route of entry and level of exposure to the allergens. The chemical structure of allergens affects the route of exposure. Airborne pollens, for example, tend to have little effect on the skin. They are easily inhaled and will thus cause more nasal and respiratory symptoms with limited skin symptoms. When allergens are swallowed or injected they may travel to other parts of the body and provoke symptoms that are remote from their point of entry. For example, allergens in foods may prompt the release of mediators in the skin and cause hives.
The specific protein structure is what determines the allergen's characteristics. Cat protein, Fel d 1, from the Felis domesticus (the domesticated cat), is the predominant cat allergen. Each allergen has a unique protein structure leading to its allergic characteristics.
Next: In the air we breathe
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