Spring is in the air, and so is pollen

Do you or your children suffer from allergies?  If so you are among millions of people who also suffer from allergies.  Not every sufferer is allergic to the same thing, however.  Some people are allergic to things in the home, like pets, mold or dust mites.  This means they may have symptoms all year round.  Others are allergic to things outside the home, like grass, pollen and trees.  For these people, their allergy symptoms will come and go based on the season.  Finally, many people can also be allergic to foods.  Food allergies actually account for the majority of allergic reactions.

What causes allergies?

Our bodies all have a very elaborate immune system to help protect us from invaders like viruses and bacteria.  We have proteins called immunoglobulins (Ig) which help initiate the attack.  Sometimes, our immune system attacks otherwise harmless invaders, like pollen.  The immunoglobulin that is responsible for this is the IgE.  An elevated IgE to an antigen (the protein on and invader that triggers an immune response)might mean an allergic reaction.  IgE lives on mast cells and basophil cells and when it is triggered it causes a release of histamine, along with other chemical mediators.  The histamine release then causes allergy symptoms.




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