About Allergies

Allergies are hypersensitive reactions by the immune system to foreign substances that would not otherwise be harmful. These foreign substances are called allergens and some typical examples are pollen, animal dander (small scales from animal skins or hair or bird feathers), dust, mites and latex. They cause allergic symptoms such as hives, itchy skin, watery nose and eyes, and asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. In most cases, you can think of an allergic reaction as a type of “false alarm,” but the body’s reaction can be annoying, debilitating and even fatal.

  To understand how allergies occur, it is important to understand how our immune system works. The immune system consists of organs and cells that defend the body from harmful biological substances, which the body encounters in the air it breathes, the foods it eats, and the things it touches.  The immune system produces antibodies that circulate throughout the body, searching out and destroying foreign antigens.  Antigens are substances which, when introduced into the body, stimulate the production of an antibody. Immunoglobulin E, or IgE is one such antibody, produced by the immune system of people who are prone to allergies. IgEs are allergen-specific and are produced when a specific allergen, say dust, enters the body of the allergic person. Once produced, IgEs travel to cells called mast cells, which are found throughout the body, but reside mostly in connective tissues such as those of the skin, the tongue, the lining of the nose and intestinal tract, eyes, and the lungs. The IgE antibodies coat the surface of the mast cells and wait for their particular allergen. The next time the allergen is encountered, in this case, the next time dust enters the person’s body; the IgE captures it and causes the mast cells to release inflammatory chemicals and histamine. These chemicals produce the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as swelling of tissues, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, engorgement of blood vessels, bronchospasm (muscular tightening of airways) and other reactions.

Gainesville Allergy & Sinus Center

  Usually, this is only the beginning of the allergic reaction. The chemicals influence other cells resulting in additional inflammation. In people suffering from chronic allergic disease, the more painful symptoms such as swelling and excessive mucus are the result of tissue inflammation due to continued exposure to allergens. Also, each kind of IgE targets a specific allergen. In other words, the IgE antibodies that are aimed at pollen will not cause allergic reactions for cat dander.  Some people seem to have several allergies; this is because their body produces different types of IgE antibodies.

  Allergic reactions take place in the eyes, nose and lungs when the allergen is airborne. If the allergen enters the body via the mouth, the consequent allergic reaction will take place in the mouth and stomach. Sometimes the allergic reaction can be so severe that it affects several organ systems, through hives, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness. This kind of a reaction is called anaphylaxis and can potentially cause death.

  According to the Allergy Report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 20 percent of adults and children in the United States suffer from allergic diseases. More on http://mydiscountmarket.com/