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Histamine - a chemical found in some of the body's cells - causes many of the symptoms of allergies, such as a runny nose or sneezing. When a person is allergic to a particular substance, such as a food or dust, the immune system mistakenly believes that this usually harmless substance is actually harmful to the body. In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system starts a chain reaction that prompts some of the body's cells to release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. The histamine then acts on a person's eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract, causing allergy symptoms. You've probably heard of antihistamine medications - these help to fight symptoms caused by the release of histamine during an allergic reaction.