What Can Cause Allergies To Develop? This is a question I’ve often asked myself for many years. So I thought we’d examine that question in this post.
What is an allergy
Before we talk about what can cause an allergy, I wanted to explore a little about what is an allergy. Before we can really talk to how they develop, we must understand what they are after all…
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance; such as pollen, bee venom and some foods for some people.
The immune system produces substances known as antibodies. When you have an allergy or allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it usually isn’t.
So, when you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways, make your eyes itch or digestive system.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis which is a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can’t be cured, treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Why do allergies develop?
So, an Allergy is defined as an inappropriate immune response to an otherwise harmless substance in the environment. So, the irritations we get such as those itchy eyes, runny nose, are all down to our body trying to fight off a harmless allergen.
This doesn’t explain how we develop allergies, or rather why our immune system decided to start fighting these allergens, so let’s look a bit deeper.
Researching further, it was suggested that you might be more likely to develop an allergy if you:
- Have a family history of asthma or allergies, such as hay fever, hives or eczema
- Are a child
- Have asthma or another allergic condition
So, if one of your parents has an allergy then you may be susceptible to one too. This would explain why some people have allergies. In my case, neither of my parents or my sibling had hay fever, so unless further up my family tree it didn’t explain why I developed this particular allergy.
Our immune systems
Our immune cells are constantly on the lookout for things such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxic substances. When these molecules enter our body, usually through the lungs, mouth, intestine, or skin; the immune system can react by labelling them as either harmless or dangerous.
Most of the time, our bodies will accept or tolerate the presence of these allergens. This is called a Type 1 immune response, and the cell type at the heart of this process is the regulatory T cell.
In some people, the body’s immune cells see an allergen as a threat. When this happens a pro-inflammatory response occurs. This is called a Type 2 immune response, and a different class of T cell appears on the scene: T helper type 2 cells.
The first exposure to an allergen that results in Type 2 immune response is called allergic sensitization.
Note: Once the body has been sensitized to the allergen, it maintains a lasting memory of the substance. And then, when it next comes into contact with the culprit, IgE molecules are primed to release a cascade of inflammatory players such as histamine, causing the unpleasant and potentially deadly symptoms of allergy.
All this great info and nothing really explained. So, it would seem that for some reason, on the day I first got hay fever my body decided that the grass pollen as harmful and so tried attacking it.
Once it had one this, this left a lasting marker which means that every time I get pollen in my system, my immune system tries to fight it – which is where the histamine is created (why they say take anti-histamine). More on that in other posts.
So, in conclusion
My initial research doesn’t really give me the answer I was looking for. It suggests that for some reason my body decided that pollen was bad and it needed to fight it. Why that is the real question – and as of yet, I have not found the exact answer.
That is not going to stop me from looking for it, and as I find out more I will create further posts.
In the meantime, though, I hope this post has given you something to think about.