Allergy

The body’s immune system is designed to produce various factors to fight foreign substances, including bacteria and viruses that the immune system perceives as threatening. An allergic response occurs when the body’s immune system over-responds, or is hypersensitive to particles known as allergens.

Common symptoms include a clear, watery nasal discharge, stuffiness, itchy nose and sneezing, accompanied by itchy, watery eyes. Allergens, often called “triggers,” include household dust, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, cockroach waste, trees, grass, and weed pollen.

Important components of the immune system are the antibodies produced by lymph tissue. A key player in the allergic response is the antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is overproduced in certain people, usually those with inherited susceptibility.

During an allergic attack, these antibodies attach to cells known as mast cells, which are generally concentrated in the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes. Once IgE binds to mast cells, these cells are programmed to release a number of chemicals. One of these chemicals, histamine, opens the blood vessels and causes skin redness and swollen membranes. Histamine causes many of the symptoms associated with allergies but a plethora of additional mediators produced by the body contribute to symptoms patients experience. New research is focused on blocking these additional mediators as well as striving to stall the process of allergy development.

Once a person knows the substance that causes the allergy, the best treatment is to avoid that substance. However, this is not always possible.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
The specialists Allergy & Asthma Affiliates offer several treatment options for allergies including: