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What is an allergy?

Allergies are very common and affect about one in three New Zealanders at some time in their lives. There are many different causes of allergy, and symptoms range from very mild to potentially life threatening. Allergy is one of the major factors associated with the cause of and persistence of asthma.

An allergy occurs when a person’s immune system over-reacts to substances — called an allergen — in the environment. These allergens are found in house dust mites, pets, pollen, foods, drugs, insect stings, latex and moulds. An allergen for one person may not be a problem for another person, and everyone reacts differently.