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Allergy refers to an abnormal sensitivity to a given substance such as pollen, dust, some drugs and numerous other environmental agents. The term “allergy” was first coined in 1906 by a Viennese doctor named Clemens Von Pirquet when he observed hypersensitivity of some of his patients to some specific elements. Allergy has derived its name from the Greek word “allos” meaning “other” and “ergon” meaning “work”.
Symptoms of allergy: -
Allergy is the inflammatory response of the body’s immune system to the causative agent which is termed as “allergen”. Allergy can manifest itself in several ways of which the most common symptoms have been described here: –
- Inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity.
- Irritation and itching of the conjunctiva.
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, bronchoconstriction, asthma, dyspnea and even anaphylaxis.
- Rashes in the skin such as dermatitis, eczema and urticaria.
- Severe pain in the ear followed by impaired hearing, etc.
Allergy is an inflammatory response of the immune system of our body to any foreign substance or “allergen”. Allergic responses can be classified into two types- acute response and late phase response.
- Acute Response: – Type I hypersensitivity reaction against an allergen takes place through humoral response. When an allergen enters the body of an individual the plasma cells start secreting IgE instead of IgM or IgG. IgE is the factor that triggers the acute inflammatory response.
- Late-phase response: – Late-phase response manifests itself only after the chemical mediators involved in generating acute response subside. The sudden migration of the neutrophils, macrophages and eosinophils to the initial site results in late-phase response. It lasts for one to two days or even more.
Treatment against allergy: -
Over the recent years many types of treatments have been carried out on patients suffering from allergy such as immunotherapy, pharmacotherapy as well as alternative forms of treatment such as homeopathy and herbal medicines. In immunotherapy, the patient is vaccinated with progressively higher doses of the specific allergen that is causing the allergy. This can either result in hyposensitivity of the patient to that allergen or reduction of the severity of the allergy reactions in the body. Monoclonal antibodies are also used in immunotherapy.