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An allergy is an immune system response to something which is not directly dangerous to the body. The term was coined by Viennese paediatrician Baron Clemens von Pirquet[?] in 1906, from the Greek words allos meaning changed or altered state and ergon meaning reaction or reactivity. He observed the exaggerated immune responses of some of his patients, and concluded that they were a response to outside allergens such as dust, pollen, or certain foods.

The most basic allergy symptoms are similar to those of a common cold - snuffling, itchy eyes, and sneezing. An allergy can also cause skin rashes[?], hives or weals[?] such as contact dermatitis[?] or eczema; these are often caused in reaction to medications.

Hay fever[?] is one example of a very common minor allergy - large percentages of the population suffer from hayfever symptoms in response to airborne pollen. Asthmatics are often allergic to dust mites[?].

Most allergies are minor annoyances, but they are not something to take lightly. An allergy can also be extremely life-threatening if it is severe, causing anaphylactic shock and a total shutdown of the airways, circulation and every function of the body.

Treatment The only known fundamental treatment for allergy is hyposensibilization. Other medication, such as by antihistamines[?] and cortisone, has the effect of reducing the symptoms.

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