IELTS READING LEVEL 4.5 – Got Allergies?

Got Allergies?

More people in the United States have allergies today compared with decades ago. Allergies are bad reactions to things around you or that you eat.

In 2010, more than half of Americans were sensitive to at least one allergen. That was the finding of one survey by the National Institutes of Health. Allergens are things that set off allergies. Many allergens-such as dust and mold-are found in the air.

“Allergies [are] increasing over time,” said Andy Nish. He is a doctor from Georgia.


Allergens in the air aren’t the only problem. Kids’ food allergies have risen too. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of kids with food allergies jumped 18 percent. Eating milk products and eggs can give some children rashes. Those foods can even cause some people to have trouble breathing.

What’s behind the spread of allergies? Some scientists think our immune systems don’t have enough to do. Immune systems help our bodies fight germs. But kids today come in contact with fewer germs than their grandparents did. That’s in part because more medicine is available. Experts say that when our immune systems have fewer germs to fight, they can get confused. They attack other things, such as milk that we drink, instead.

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Other scientists say hotter temperatures are to blame. They say the weather is warmer for longer periods now, so plants bloom longer. Plants release pollen, which is a common allergen.

Doctors do not know for sure what’s making allergies increase. But they do know how to treat them with medicine. “There is very good treatment for allergies,” Nish says. “No one should suffer with symptoms.”


Take Cover!

Dust and other allergens that float into your nose are in for a blast-a cough or a sneeze, that is! Both are natural reflexes, or responses, to help keep you from getting sick. Here’s a look at the big bursts.



Sneezes start at the back of your throat. Each quick burst can force out up to 40,000 droplets of saliva. The tiny droplets travel at up to 300 miles per hour.



Coughs come out of your lungs. Each blast can push out 3,000 saliva droplets as fast as 50 miles per hour. Enough air comes out to almost fill a two-liter bottle.






immune    im · mune

Advanced Definition


  1. resistant to a disease, either naturally or by medical means.

Humans are immune to many diseases that affect cats and dogs.  I had chicken pox as a child, so I’m sure I’m immune to it now.

  1. protected from or not subject to something that does affect others.

Even the very wealthy are not immune from the effects of an economic recession.

They thought their stock portfolio was relatively immune to market variations.

He’s a cold man who seems to be immune to the pain of others.


Spanish cognate

inmune: The Spanish word inmune means immune.


These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. Keep your immune system healthy and ready to fight invading germs by practicing good health habits.
  2. Some scientists think our immune systems don’t have enough to do. Immune systems help our bodies fight germs.
  3. A good laugh boosts the cardiovascular system. That’s your heart and blood. It also helps the immune system, your disease fighters.
  1. Studies have even shown that music may help boost the body’s immune system. When you’re sick, try listening to soft, relaxing music.
  2. People with latent infections have TB bacteria in their bodies, but their immune systems keep the germs at bay. They don’t get sick, and they can’t infect others.
  3. In other words, get your calcium from low-fat milk or yogurt instead of relying on calcium- fortified juice. And don’t be too impressed with juices that claim to have ingredients to help boost your immune “A proper diet, lots of activity, and plenty of sleep is what really helps keep a child’s immune system strong,” says registered dietitian and nutritional consultant Keri Gans.



reaction    re · ac · tion



  1. a feeling or action that occurs as a response to something else.

When he saw the snake, his reaction was to run away. She had a bad reaction to that medicine.


Advanced Definition


  1. a movement, action, or response in reverse direction or manner.
  2. movement toward extreme political conservatism.

The 1980s was a decade of reaction.

  1. a response to an influence or stimulus.

I was surprised by his calm reaction to the news of her suicide. We all want to see her reaction when they announce the winner.

  1. in chemistry, change that occurs as substances are combined.

The substance turns blue because of a chemical reaction.

  1. in physics, the atomic change that occurs when a nucleus is bombarded with a particle, photon, or other nucleus.
  2. in mechanics, the immediate response to the application of a force, resulting in an equal and opposite force.

Spanish cognate

reacción: The Spanish word reacción means reaction.


These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. When drivers are distracted, their reaction time slows way down. That’s bad because every millisecond counts behind the wheel.
  2. In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace prize for his civil rights work. Ironically, his work for peace resulted in violent reactions.
  3. Chemists can bond atoms to each other to see what happens. When an atom is sliced in half, a nuclear reaction occurs.
  4. Angelou had a difficult childhood. She endured some terrible experiences. Her reaction to these experiences was to become mute. She did not speak for almost five years.
  5. In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights work. Ironically, his work for peace resulted in violent reactions. On several occasions, people threw rocks at King.
  6. Sniffle, wheeze, cough, ahchoo! You’ve probably been hearing those sounds a lot. Why? Allergies are increasing in the United States. Those are bad reactions to things around you or that you eat.
  7. James barely had time to be curious about his father’s reaction before his father turned on his heels, slammed the door shut and went sprinting down the hallway towards James and his mother.
  8. Don’t try to hold on to a cat that becomes frightened. It doesn’t really want to hurt you, but its natural reaction is to use its claws to get away or to protect itself.
  9. Have you ever felt as if you have butterflies fluttering in your stomach? That uneasy feeling is anxiety, and it happens to everyone. It is when you feel worried or uneasy. A little anxiety is a normal human reaction to stress.
  10. I wasn’t alone in my reaction. A man watched the concert next to me at Best Buy. After a minute, he took off his glasses and said, “They say movies make things look larger than This makes them look smaller than life.”
  11. Paola asked her mother why the pennies were green. Her mother explained that the pennies had gone through a process called oxidation. This is a chemical reaction that can take place on metal. In this case, it creates a substance on metal.



sensitive    sen · si · tive



  1. feeling emotions in a very strong way.

He is very sensitive and cries easily.

My sister is sensitive about being very tall.

  1. showing a strong reaction to chemicals or other things in the environment.

Camera film is sensitive to light.


Advanced Definition


  1. having the ability to sense.

The leaves of the plant are sensitive to touch.

  1. very responsive to and affected by sense impressions.

Dogs are highly sensitive to pitch.

 Humans are sensitive to color, and advertisers know that color can affect people’s opinions of a product.

  1. acutely responsive mentally or emotionally.

For a sensitive child, changing schools is difficult.

  1. very responsive to certain stimuli such as chemicals or other environmental agents.

This soap is made for sensitive skin.

While you’re taking this medication, your skin will be highly sensitive to sunlight.

  1. involving something that is secret or needs care in handling.

Religion is a sensitive subject.

  1. of certain instruments, responsive to extremely small changes in heat, light, or the like.

We use a sensitive thermometer for our temperature.

  1. characterized by concern for the feelings of others.

She responded to his problem in a sensitive manner.



Spanish cognate

sensible: The Spanish word sensible means sensitive.



These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. As of 2010, more than half of Americans are sensitive to at least one allergen.
  2. The skin has many nerve endings as well. They act like the body’s alarm system. They are sensitive to cold and heat. They are also sensitive to pain, pressure and touch.



Name: ___________________________________ Date: _______________

1. According to the text, what are increasing in the United States?
A. allergens
B. germs
C. allergies
D. reflexes


2. Which of the following best describes the solution proposed in the text for people who suffer from allergies?
A. The solution is to stay away from dust and mold.
B. The solution is to stop eating milk products and eggs.
C. The solution is to hide from anything that causes allergies.
D. The solution is taking medicine to help with allergy symptoms.


3. Allergies can affect someone’s everyday life.

What evidence can be used to support the statement?
A. “More people in the United States have allergies today compared with decades ago.”
B. “Allergens in the air aren’t the only problem.”
C. “Those foods can even cause some people to have trouble breathing.”
D. “But kids today come in contact with fewer germs than their grandparents did.”


4. What can be concluded from the passage?
A. A person with allergies is sick and needs to see a doctor.
B. A person who sneezes and coughs often may have allergies.
C. A person who drinks milk and eats eggs will definitely get allergies.
D. A person who lives in a place with hot weather will never get allergies.

5. What is the main idea of this article?
A. Allergies are increasing, but simple steps can be taken to cope with them.
B. Our own human nature has produced more allergies than ever.
C. Everyday foods have caused a higher proportion of allergies than ever.
D. Coughs and sneezes are reflexes to allergens.

6. Read the sentences:

“‘There is very good treatment for allergies,’ Nish says. ‘No one should suffer with

As used in the text, what does “symptoms” mean?
A. changes in the body that are signs that a person is sick
B. changes in temperature that give people allergies
C. changes in medicine to treat people when they are sick
D. changes in people’s immune systems that cause allergies

7. Choose the answer that best completes the sentence below.

Kids come into contact with fewer germs today, their immune systems get confused and attack other things.
A. if
B. after
C. although
D. so

8. What can be concluded from the evidence that coughs and sneezes are natural reflexes and from the evidence that our immune system attacks allergens?


9. What two possible reasons for the increase in allergies are explained in the passage? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.



10. What can be concluded about the increase of allergies in the future? Use the evidence from the text to support your answer.

_______________________________________________________________________________ · © 2019 ReadWorks®, Inc. All rights reserved.

Definitions and sample sentences within definitions are provided by Wordsmyth. © 2015 Wordsmyth. All rights reserved.

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