An allergic reaction is an inappropriate immune response to an otherwise harmless substance. Allergens are low molecular weight proteins absorbed into the body through the skin and mucous membranes, respiratory tract, or gastrointestinal tract from environmental, chemical, or food-based sources. The immune system recognizes the allergen as antigenic and a hypersensitivity reaction follows.
Allergic rhinitis is an immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated reaction that causes the release of inflammatory compounds in mucous membranes (including the nose, eyes, eustachian tube, sinuses, middle ear and pharynx) when an individual with a sensitized immune system inhales an allergen, such as pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander. The allergen triggers production of IgE, which binds to mast cells and basophils in the nasal mucosa. When circulating antigens contact IgE antibodies attached to the mast cells, they trigger the degranulation and release of inflammatory mediators that produce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
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