Are Your Allergies Acting Up?
Spring is here and so is allergy season. Almost 20 percent of Americans have allergies so many understand how annoying the symptoms can be. So, what are allergies and why do they make us itch and sneeze?
What Are They?
Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system. The body’s immune system reacts to usually harmless substances which are called allergens (pollen, dust, pets, etc). A person is exposed to allergens inside the body by many methods including; touching, eating, and breathing. If you are exposed to the allergen which you are sensitive to, there are many symptoms you may experience; itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and rashes.
How Do You Get Them?
When a person comes into contact with the allergen, the body starts to make large Y shaped proteins called antibodies. These little guys help neutralize and identify foreign substances in the body, in our case the foreign substance is the allergen. The antibody which develops in the presence of allergen is called IgE and it binds to the allergen. The antibodies then attach to a blood cell called a mast cell. Mast cells are found all over the body. This causes your body to release chemicals into the blood. Histamine is one of the most prevalent chemicals released, and it causes a lot of allergy symptoms like; itchy and watery eyes and runny nose. That’s why when you get allergy medicine; most say “anti-histamine,” on the box, which helps reduce those symptoms.
How To Cope?
Allergies can develop at any age and many individuals also outgrow allergies over time. While environment plays a role in allergy development, there is a greater risk of developing allergies if a person in your family has a history of allergies, especially a parent or sibling. While you may not be able to control whether or not you have allergies, you should do what you can to find out what your allergen is, and try to reduce your contact with it (easier said than done). This will help decrease all of those pesky symptoms!