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  • Get your tissues ready, because spring has sprung!

  • - Hey guys, Tara here for Dnews - and it is

  • officially that time of year! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and if

  • you're anything like me - your nose is a disgusting faucet of neverending liquids.

  • BUT- before you go blaming pollen for those pesky seasonal allergies - remember, you have

  • no one to blame but yourself.

  • So, what's happening inside your body, when you experience allergies?

  • Well, it's basically one giant misunderstanding. The first time you're exposed to an allergen

  • - your immune system investigates that allergen and produces specific antibodies for it, which

  • are special cells designed to detect and stop foreign invasion.

  • Typically, this is a good thing. It's what prevents you from getting sick. But in the

  • case of allergies, your immune system mistakes innocuous things like pollen and cat dander

  • - for a serious threat. And in response to that threat, your plasma cells release a flood

  • of these antibodies that attach to the surface of your mast cells, causing them to burst

  • open and release a flood of histamine. Histamine is what causes the swelling that leads to

  • various allergy-like symptoms, like runny nose, sneezing, or hives.

  • But why do some people have such bad allergies, and others not at all? There's no cut-and-dry

  • answer to that question, but genetics and environment seem to play the two biggest roles.

  • Research, for example, has shown that children with one allergic parent have a 33% chance

  • of developing allergies; and with two allergic parents, that number goes up to 70%. Genetics

  • are also the reason African-American children experience three times as much sensitivity

  • to food allergens, as Caucasian children. In science, we're always taught that early

  • development is the most crucial stage of life - and early exposure to allergens is no different.

  • Research from Henry Ford Hospital shows that having a pet in the house during your child's

  • first year of life may protect him or her from developing allergies.

  • That same group also found that babies born via c-section were six times more likely to

  • be sensitive to dust mite allergens, than babies born via natural birth. Presumably,

  • because they're not exposed to the microbiome of bacteria present in the mother's birth

  • canal, which teaches their immune system the difference between good and bad bacteria.

  • This goes hand in hand with something called the Hygiene Hypothesis, which aims to explain

  • why allergies are more prevalent in wealthy, industrialized nations, than developing countries.

  • Again, the idea is that a lack of early exposure to parasites and bacteria typically found

  • in developing nations - prevents our bodies from being able to develop the appropriate

  • immune response to them. So in the event we're actually exposed to dangerous agents, our

  • bodies simply don't know how to deal with it.

  • So, what can we do about seasonal allergies, if our bodies just refuse to cooperate?

  • Anti-histamines can alleviate the symptoms - but they're not gonna make you any less

  • allergic to a substance you're already allergic to. Some studies tout alternative remedies

  • - like acupuncture, or eating locally grown honey - but most of those have anecdotal effects.

  • The only proven treatment for respiratory allergies - is immunotherapy, where you receive

  • increasing doses of whatever allergen you're sensitive to, either orally - or via injection.

  • That slow build-up of allergens, allows your body to acclimate to them, which in turn,

  • improves your long-term tolerance. Not only is this an expensive option - if

  • you don't have insurance - it's also a time-consuming process, that can take months or even years

  • to build up a sufficient tolerance. In the most extreme cases, people with severe

  • allergies can resort to rush immunotherapy - which is the same thing, but on a much tighter

  • timeline. So instead of spreading out your doses over several months or years, you receive

  • all of them. In a week. One long, miserable, neverending week.

  • Still better than a lifetime of sneezing, though - that much I can tell you. I got tested

  • for allergies my first year of college - and discovered I was allergic to all 71 allergens

  • they tested me for, including both American and German cockroaches. So, yeah. I'm pretty

  • wordly. I know there's weirder stuff out there, though

  • - so let us know what YOU'RE allergic to, in the comments down below - or hit us up

  • on Twitter at @Dnews.

Get your tissues ready, because spring has sprung!

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B2 US allergic immune developing immune system bacteria histamine

Why Do We Get Allergies?

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    王健安 posted on 2016/07/22
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