Allergies are hypersensitive responses by our immune system to certain environmental or dietary triggers.

Allergic Reaction

An allergy can be instigated by ‘allergens’ such as pollen, house dust and cosmetics for example. These allergens can trigger allergic reactions such as eczema, hayfever and digestive intolerances.

Description

The word allergy is derived from the Greek allos meaning different and ergos meaning action. Allergy roughly refers to an altered reaction.

Allergies are hypersensitive (exaggerated) responses to certain environmental or dietary trigger. It has been thought that allergies originated as an evolutionary remnant of the immune system’s response to parasitic worms.

One aim of our immune system is to move to the site of any invasion and destroy the invader. This is achieved by creating protective proteins known as antibodies which specifically target foreign substances, known as antigens. These antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD) help destroy foreign substances by attaching to their surface and making it easier for other immune cells to destroy them.

In individuals with an allergy, they develop a specific type of antibody known as, immunoglobulin E, or IgE, in response to a normally harmless foreign substance such as tree pollen.

IgE attaches to mast cells within the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal (GIT) tract and skin. The mast cells release mediator chemicals known as histamine, leukotrienes and cytokines that produce rashes, inflammatory swellings, swelling and irritation of nasal and respiratory mucus membranes, bronchial constriction, hyper secretion of mucus, watering eyes and dark swellings under the eyes also known as allergic ‘shiners’.

An allergy can be instigated by ‘allergens’ such as pollen, house dust or mites, air pollution, industrial chemicals, foods, drugs, dander, latex, plants, dyes, metals (nickel) and cosmetics. These allergens can trigger allergic reactions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, asthma, hives, hayfever, perennial rhinitis and digestive intolerances.

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