Fight­ing al­ler­gies

Element - - Global Health -

The runny nose and puffy eyes that can sig­nal an al­lergy are signs our body is over­re­act­ing to an other­wise harm­less for­eign in­vader. Our im­mune sys­tem’s rst line of de­fence is lym­pho­cyte cells that move be­tween tis­sues and blood ves­sels seek­ing out po­ten­tially harm­ful for­eign cells. The rst time the lym­pho­cytes meet a for­eigner (or anti­gen) that they iden­tify as dan­ger­ous they make an an­ti­body called IgE, tai­lored for that anti­gen. Then the IgE mol­e­cules at­tach to other cells found in the blood­stream, lung tis­sues, skin, tongue and lin­ings of gas­troin­testi­nal tract and nose. The next time the anti­gen en­ters the body, the cells with IgE at­tach­ments ght the in­vader by re­leas­ing chem­i­cals such as his­tamine. The chem­i­cals set off a string of re­ac­tions that ir­ri­tate the tis­sues and lead to al­lergy symp­toms.

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