How do allergies arise?

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Eth Mountfitchett

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How do allergies arise?
« on: 13/10/2009 22:30:04 »
Eth Mountfitchett  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Chris,

We hear a lot about allergies and how the symptoms can be quite severe. But what actually is an allergy? In other words, what is it about some substances that makes our bodies react against them?  Does penicillin allergy, for instance, have the same basic mechanism as an allergy to a particular kind of soap?

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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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How do allergies arise?
« Reply #1 on: 18/10/2009 18:01:53 »
My understanding is that allergies are basically the result of your immune system mistaking a foreign protein for a threat and over-reacting to it, which results in histamine being released in the area. Histamine enlarges capillaries making it easier for white blood cells to pass through the walls to attack threats, which results in swelling and irritation. This is why anti-histamine drugs are effective in treating allergies.

So yes, I believe all allergies have the same basic mechanism.


Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do allergies arise?
« Reply #2 on: 19/10/2009 16:26:55 »
Thank you, Madidus. I was wondering mainly because of the difference in severity of some reactions.
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