Many people struggle with allergies. But where does the term “allergy” come from and how is it properly defined? What is the difference between an allergy and a response to a stimulus? Is the term “allergy” over used?

When I was first diagnosed with an allergy there were a ton of questions that cam to mind. After doing some of my own research, I was very surprised that many things people consider to be an allergy really are not at all. To better understand what an “allergy” really is, a person should first take the time to know were the term comes from.

An “allergy” was first described at the beginning of the 20th century by a pediatrician named Clemens von Pirquet. The term mean “changed activity” and described changes that occurred after contacting a foreign substance. Two types of change were noticed. The first was beneficial. The benefit occurred from the development of protection against a foreign substance after being exposed to it. This response advances us from developing many infectious diseases for a second time and provides the scientific basis for most immunizations. The other type of response that is not seen as beneficial is known as a hypersensitivity response, and it is the response for which the term “allergy” is most commonly used today.

Allergies are now known to be possible even without previous exposure to a substance. Everyone is capable of having an allergic response. A basic example; everyone would have an allergic response if they were given the wrong blood type during a blood transfusion.

I believe the term “allergy” is over used. When your eyes bother you when you drive through a congested city with smog, they are not allergic to the air but are experiencing a direct chemical irritation from the pollutants. Similarly, skin coming in contact with some plants or chemicals experience direct damage and not an allergic response. In infusions, doctors often blame milk or food allergy for vomiting, colic, crying, irritability, diarrhea or sneezing. An allergy can absolutely cause these reactions but there are countless other reasons for these symptoms.

If you do feel you have an allergy from a simple rash to being gluten intolerant , you should consult your physician right away. There is no reason to suffer. There are many tests available that can accurately diagnose whether you have an allergy or not. This will then help you to know the proper medical action you should take.