How Allergies Develop
It’s that time of year- sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, they all are signs of yearly allergies. If you’re like many people throughout the world, this can be a miserable time of year. If you’re looking for some natural ways of relieving allergy symptoms, we’ve written a blog about that subject several months ago. In today’s blog however, we want to discuss how allergies develop. A solid foundation of how our bodies react and develop allergies will help give hope in treating them.
Let’s first talk about the immune system. The immune system is the body’s line of defense against pathogens, viruses, and harmful material. It also is in charge of removing damaged or sick cells, including cancerous cells. A more in depth discussion about the immune system can be found here. For our discussion we want to focus on the immune cells. Immune cells are specially designed to defend us from harmful material, pathogens, and our own unrepairable cells. Each of these cells are built to know perfectly how every cell in the body should work. They constantly patrol the body, analyzing cells and other material they come in contact with. When they detect that a cell, bacteria, or other material is harmful, they promptly tag it, kill it and have it removed. The creation of mucus, fevers, sneezing, inflammation, pain, and aching are all indications that the immune system is working.
What if, though, the immune cells aren’t created correctly? Does that even happen? The answer is yes. When the immune system is weak, immune cells are created incorrectly. These incorrectly made cells are then expected to perform the duties of a fully functioning immune cell. However, it would be like sending someone who’s drunk into a battle- it wouldn’t end well. These immune cells often times don’t recognize what is and isn’t dangerous. This means that sometimes immune cells will attack healthy cells or go on alert when there is no danger. So when non dangerous material enters the body, these immune cells may think it’s harmful and flag it as dangerous. Having a material “flagged” or “tagged” as dangerous is part of the immune response. It’s like putting out a “Wanted” sign in a town for a dangerous criminal. As soon as the criminal is recognized in the town, the police move in to arrest them. Similarly, when bacteria or harmful material are tagged, the immune system can more easily recognize them if they return and immediately send out the troops.
So what does this have to do with allergies? Well when immune cells come across a foreign object (whether it be a food or pollen) they can mistake it as an enemy and tag it as dangerous. Now when that material/object or something similar enters or touches the body, there is an immediate immune response. This response is the reason why we have runny nose, itchy eyes, etc. when we come in contact with an allergen (something we’re allergic to); the immune system is actually attacking the body. This is known as an auto-immune response- immune cells (remember they’re not formed correctly) attack healthy cells when an allergen is present.
It’s good to remind everyone here that allergen in and of themselves, aren’t dangerous. Pet hair, pollen, etc. aren’t lethal. The body has simply mistaken them as something dangerous and goes into an immune response, sometimes severe. What is really causing the allergy symptoms is the immune system.
An overdose of a foreign object (pollen, dust, drugs, etc.) will also be tagged because a weak immune system sees it as a threat. Here are a couple of examples.
I know a woman who is allergic to penicillin. How did this occur? She wasn’t allergic in her very early years, so what happened? When she was younger she was very sick. As a result, and due to medical practices at the time, she was given penicillin in large doses daily. By the end of the treatment she had developed an allergy. How did this happen? As the drug was administered the body recognized it as something foreign. At first there may have been no real problems in the body. Her immune cells, though weak, most likely didn’t tag the drug as something dangerous. However, as more and more drugs were administered, the body recognized there was something wrong. The immune cells, in an attempt to defend the body, “tagged” the penicillin as an invader.
As a more personal example, I have suffered from seasonal allergies since I was at least 13. My mother did her best to feed us good food, but I liked eating fast food and sweets. As a result my immune system wasn’t the best growing up. I was usually the first to get sick and would always catch any illness that my siblings had. I say this to illustrate my point- my immune system was compromised. Growing up in California, pollen exposure was high during the spring. As stated, I developed allergies around 13, even though I had been exposed to pollen long before then. So what happened? As my immune system grew weaker, my immune cells didn’t recognize pollen as something non-lethal. Despite there being no problems in the past, my weak and incorrectly formed cells “tagged” pollen as a threat. As a result, the next time I came in contact with it, especially a large amount of it, my body reacted in a way to defend me.
Sometimes an allergen enters the body attached to or with an actual threat. Such as pet hair with some bacteria. In such an event, the immune cells may not be able to distinguish between the two. The immune cells then tag the pet hair as dangerous, beginning the process of allergies.
There may be other reasons why allergies may develop, however, at the root of it is a compromised or weak immune system. While we discussed these points in our other blog, a quick overview of what can weaken the immune system is important. Keep in mind this is a short list, but an important point to remember is it all goes back to our lifestyle.
Lack of exercise
Not getting enough sleep
Harboring grudges/not forgiving
In our other blog we have tips on how to treat allergies naturally, but here are some to get you started. Keep in mind all these tips have to do with healing the body and boosting the immune system’s strength.
Manage stress levels
Get enough sleep (7-8 hours for adults and 9-10 for children)
Stay well hydrated
Eat well (this means eating 5 nutritious meals a day, eating within an hour and half of waking up, and having dinner no later than 7pm)
Remember that the body and mind can heal. We can grow healthier and live a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Phytotherapi has a solution to aid those with immune system problems. Our products are all natural and work with the body to help alleviate stress, strengthen the immune system, and give the body the tools it needs to repair itself.