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Allergies and asthma


Take action to get relief

An allergy is when your body's natural defense system overreacts to allergens, like pollen, dust mites, food, and latex, and causes a runny nose, coughing, itching, hives, or other symptoms.

Your body can react to many allergens. Most allergic reactions are mild and annoying, while others can be sudden and life-threatening.

Some allergens can also trigger asthma, a common breathing problem whose symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Other irritants can trigger asthma, too. For example, the flu is a common asthma trigger, so wash your hands often and get a flu shot every year.

Allergies and asthma can't be cured, but you and your doctor can make a daily action plan that can reduce your symptoms and help you lead a healthy, active life.

Reviewed by: Peter Cvietusa, MD, August 2013
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2013 Kaiser Permanente