8.2.5 Allergies

Did this happen to you? When you have gone to a new place and suddenly you started sneezing, wheezing for no explained reason, and when you came away, your symptoms dissappeared? Some of us are sensitive to some particles in the environment.

The above-mentioned reaction could be because of allergy to pollen, mites, etc., which are different in different places. The exaggerated response of the immune system to certain antigens present in the environment is called allergy.

The substances to which such an immune response is produced are called allergens. The antibodies produced to these are of IgE type. Common examples of allergens are mites in dust, pollens, animal dander, etc. Symptoms of allergic reactions include sneezing, watery eyes, running nose and difficulty in breathing.

Allergy is due to the release of chemicals like histamine and serotonin from the mast cells. For determining the cause of allergy, the patient is exposed to or injected with very small doses of possible allergens, and the reactions studied.

The use of drugs like anti-histamine, adrenalin and steroids quickly reduce the symptoms of allergy.

Somehow, modern-day life style has resulted in lowering of immunity and more sensitivity to allergens – more and more children in metro cities of India suffer from allergies and asthma due to sensitivity to the environment. This could be because of the protected environment provided early in life.

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