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Article by Dieter Luske
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What are Allergies?
… Introduction and Menu
... useNature.com is embarking on an Allergy Discovery Tour, hope you will be part of it ...
Allergy is such a complex problem it nearly defies explanation....
Even the term allergy is confusing; therefore, we will break it down into all kind of different reactive system behavior, including food intolerance and other sensitivities, starting with a basic definition and differentiation between an allergy and intolerance.
A true allergy or as it is sometimes called a “Real Allergy“ requires the presence of IgE antibodies against the substance, eg; food, and it is diagnosed as an Immune response, and the reaction is quick, usually within half an hour, which makes it easy to identify.
An intolerance or sensitivity requires NO IgE antibody involvement, it is a chemical reaction, and often associated with asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ADD, ADHD and mmany more. Reactions can be delayed by hours or days and the effects can be cumulative.
Generally speaking an allergy is easier to diagnose than intolerance.
The pathways of non-IgE-mediated intolerance are poorly understood, which has hindered the development of simple and reliable diagnostic tests.
Please, come back often, as we will regulary add articles to the Menu:
( Please suggest more topics or ask your personal Allergy related question – see the comment box at the end of this page.)
Allergy Information Menu:
General Definition of an Allergy – What is an Allergy…. read the answer below this Menu
- When Should I have an Allergy Test?
- Allergy Testing and Treatment for Allergies & Food Intolerance or non-allergic food hypersensitivity
- Allergies – The Mucous Membrane Focus
- Allergies - Spring Sinus & Hayfever
- Allergies and Asthma
- Coelic - Gluten Allergy - Chronic Intestinal Mal-absorption Syndrome Wheat and Gluten Intolerance
- Allergies and Infertility
- Are you allergic to the 20 th Century? (Who isn't ?)
- Chemical Sensitivity
- Salicylate Intolerance
What is an Allergy
Our immune system defends us against viruses or bacteria or other harmful organism and substances. However, many substances that enter our body can be regarded as harmless, and in an ideal world our immune system would ignore those.
If a substance causes a reaction, we call it an “allergen”. Allergens are usually harmless substances, but they can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Food allergy is a common and good example, where a harmless substance such as a peanut, can cause a violent reaction known as anaphylaxis shock, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by swelling of body tissues, including the throat, and a sudden fall in blood pressure.
Pollen, house dust mites, mold, and animal dander are other examples of allergens.
In an allergic person, the body mistakes the allergen for a harmful substance.
Why are allergies occuring in the first place is hard to answer, but we know, that it may run in families, you may have genetic predispositions or it may have been brought on by overexposure to certain substances or even because of past viral, bacterial or parasite infections.
Overexposure occurs through a process called sensitization, where a person’s immune system is exposed to enough of the allergen to make the body produce allergic antibodies to that substance.
With later exposures, that same allergen binds to its corresponding IgE on allergic cells, and the body reacts with symptoms of allergies.
Other factors are general digestive problems or stress.
Allergy reactions often can be divided into body systems, such as the typical hay fever symptoms which effects your respiratory system with symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing, itching, swelling, or asthma.
Allergies can occur at any time during our lives, and they seem to increase.
It appears that the allergic response was once meant to protect the body against parasitic infections, which is still a possible underlying cause.
With a true allergy, a sufferer will even react to a minute particle.
Whereas with a sensitivity / intolerance, the amount of the food or substance which you get in contact with before reacting may vary greatly, and not only that, but it may come from a combination of many different substances, be it organic or chemical in nature.
With a sensitivity you will react to the sum of the exposure.
With a severe sensitivity, you will react constantly and you will not even know what you are reacting too. This is sometimes called a “masked allergy”, you simply feel not well, and may have chronic respiratory, skin, digestive or muscle/skeletal symptoms, which are usually accompanied by a lack of energy and possible brain fag.
With other words, you don’t know what the heck is going on.
I personally believe that allergies are one of our biggest health problems.
Any symptom, any illness, any disease, and any chronic disease will have an allergy or sensitivity factor as either a causative or a contributing factor.
I also believe allergies are getting worse. Not only are we reacting to natural food or airborne substances, we are reacting more and more to manufactured substances, chemicals and their interaction within our environment.
Diagnostic procedures are unfortunately unreliable, inconclusive or not even available, and are made more complicated as people often have a mixture of real allergies and sensitivities together.
As bad as all that sounds, there are many solutions, and hopefully we can coordinate lots of information in our following articles.
Articles will be provided by contributing practitioners, and if any article resonates with you and you feel that particular practitioner may be able to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact that practitioner.
UseNature would like to hear from anyone who can submit information about allergies, treatment, testing, equipment and products.
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Please see above Menu and continue reading ... thank you ..
Dieter L. - Editor : useNature.com ... for your Health ...
Please feel free to make comments – offer solutions – personal stories – new ideas – new products – new testing procedures and anything else that may help. - Offer comments below ..
8 Oct 2010
Last Update: 24 Feb 2012
Article/Information supplied by Dieter Luske
Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.