What exactly is an allergy?


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For my whole life, I have had allergies to something.  Sneezing, coughing, hives, swollen lips, vomiting; you name it, I have had that type of reaction to something.  Whether it was a pollen allergy or for allergy, I have experienced it all! Surprisingly I do not have a gluten or peanut butter allergy (well, as of right now I don't) but I am allergic to many other things.  My list includes: kiwis, peaches, cherries, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, pertussis vaccines and z packs (many people take z-pack when they have bronchitis in order to break up the mucus in their lungs that makes their chest feel heavy).  Even though I have had allergies for most of my life, I never really understood what exactly was happening in my body to give me allergies to certain foods.  According to Medical News Today , when someone has an allergy to something, it means they have a hypersensitive immune system that responds to certain things as if they are toxic pathogens entering the body and your body is trying to get rid of the pathogen.  Something interesting that I read was that usually people do not have allergic reactions immediately.  It could take someone a while to build up an allergy to something. For me, it took twelve years for my body to decide that it wasn't going to let me eat peaches.  This process is known as sensitization.  This is when the body's process of building up antibodies to fight the pathogen.

So what exactly does it mean to build up antibodies to something? When reading WebMD , I learned that your body starts to produce something known as IgE which will bind the antibody.  Then these antibodies will come together to form a mast cell(these mast cells are usually found in the body's airways, and GU tract which gives them a better chance at being exposed to the allergen).  The allergens will then attach to the mast cell and then the mast cell will release histamine into the bloodstream which causes the allergic reaction.  This probably explains why I have slowly developed more allergies during my lifetime.  According to an article that I was reading on the Mayo Clinic website, food allergies in children have developed so rapidly and have become so bad that the FDA requires all food manufacturers to put the eight most common allergy foods on their labels.  These foods include: milk, eggs,tree nuts. peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.  All of this talk of food allergies reminds me of the scene in the movie, Hitch, when Will Smith has a bad reaction to a food that I could consider being classified as Anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction.  Of course the movie makes the exaction extremely comical.  So for those of you who have not seen it, check out the movie clip to watch the allergic reaction scene!

photo credit to this site 
cskinhitchsmithswollenbig.gif



1 Comment

Wow! You do have a quite the list of allergies. Like you, my dad and I also experience allergic reactions with almost every tree, pollen, almonds, bees, and plenty more. I always thought it was odd that my dad and I would have the same allergies. I know that allergies are hereditary and can be passed through genes which must have happened with my dad and I, so maybe it's one of your parents to blame with all your bad luck with allergies. Also, did you know it's possible to grow out of some allergies? I'm allergic to Penicillin too which is the mold that grows on oranges (I used to work in a produce department) and the antibiotic given to almost everyone who needs one when their sick. But many times children find out they are allergic to penicillin at a young age (like me) and end up not being allergic once they're older. Here's a
Website that talks more about how some people grow out of their allergies.

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