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What causes respiratory allergies?

Sometimes, antibodies from the immune system identify a particular substance, or allergen, as dangerous, even though it's completely harmless. This causes the cells to release chemicals called histamines that lead to inflammation and irritation in the surrounding area. In the case of respiratory allergies, allergens are airborne substances such as pollen and dust. These substances cause an allergic reaction when they are breathed in.

Allergies of all types are actually quite common. In the United States, about one in five people suffer from some type of allergies. Of those people, almost 80 percent have some kind of seasonal or respiratory allergy. People may be allergic to one substance or several, and they may have more than one type of allergy.

Several factors can increase your risk of developing respiratory allergies, including having a family history of allergies, having another allergy or having asthma. Children are also more likely than adults to have allergies. Environmental factors may increase your risk, too. It's possible that repeated exposure to certain substances may increase your risk for developing an allergy to that substance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.