What Are Allergies
To understand what allergies are you first
need to understand your immune system
The heart of your immune system is the
ability to distinguish between self and
non-self. Virtually every body cell carries
molecules that identify it as self. The
body's immune defenses do not normally
attack tissues that carry a self-marker.
When immune defenders encounter cells or
organisms carrying molecules that say
"foreign," the immune troops move quickly to
eliminate the intruders.
Any substance capable of triggering an
immune response is called an antigen.
Antigens can be a virus, a bacterium, a
fungus, or a parasite. An antigen announces
its foreignness by means of characteristic
shapes called epitopes, which protrude from
Your immune system is designed to keep
foreigners out. It's like a war.
The immune system stockpiles a tremendous
arsenal of cells. In order to have room to
match millions of possible foreign invaders,
just a few of each type of antibody are
stored. When an antigen appears, those
matched cells multiply into a full-scale
army. Antibodies belong to a family of large
molecules known as immunoglobulins.
Immunoglobulins are proteins, made up of
chains of amino acids. Scientists have
identified nine chemically distinct classes
of human immunoglobulins (Ig). Each type
plays a different role in the immune defense
strategy. IgE, which under normally occurs
only in trace amounts, is the villain in
allergic reactions. Each IgE antibody is
specific; one reacts against oak pollen,
another against ragweed.
The first time an allergy-prone person is
exposed to an allergen, he or she makes
large amounts of the corresponding IgE
antibody. These IgE molecules attach to the
surfaces of cells in the body. When an IgE
antibody encounters its specific allergen,
it signals the body to begin powerful
chemical warfare. These chemicals include
histamine, heparin, eosinophils, and
Your Body Knows these Symptoms……. Do You?
It’s really warfare, but to you, it may
appear as one or more of the following
Sneezing often accompanied by a runny or
Itching eyes, nose, or throat
Allergic shiners (dark circles under the
eyes caused by increased blood flow near
The "allergic salute" (in a child,
persistent upward rubbing of the nose
that causes a crease mark on the nose)
Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the
membrane that lines the eyelids, causing
red-rimmed, swollen eyes, and crusting
of the eyelids).
If you suffer from some of these symptoms
you just may have allergies.
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store+