The job of the immune system is to detect and destroy “bugs” out to kill us while leaving our own tissues alone, known as tolerance. Allergies are seen when the immune system gets “confused” and overreacts to harmless stuff like pollen or dust mites (allergen/ antigen) reacting to them as if they were lethal invaders. When the immune system declares nuclear war on the body, the result is a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
An allergic reaction typically occurs when an antibody known as IgE binds the antigen, activating mast cells to release inflammatory chemicals, the most famous of which is histamine.
Common anti-histamines like Benadryl work by preventing their release. Thus, when testing for allergies is done, what immunologists are usually testing is the antibody IgE. Did you know that an allergy to birch tree pollen can cause allergies to apples and other fruits? It’s true. This is due to an antigen is known as bet v 1. And an allergy to cockroaches or dust mites could make you more prone to…
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