How does an allergy occur? How do we fight allergens?

What is an allergy?

Allergy is a kind of hypersensitivity reaction of the immune system to things in our environment.

What is an allergen?

Allergens are substances that will cause a hypersensitivity reaction in the body. These can be respiratory or nutritional. We take the respiratory ones into our body through breathing. These; house dust mites, meadow-tree-grass pollen, mold fungi, animal hair, cockroaches, latex. Food intakes are milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables. In addition, allergens can be taken into the body with drugs, bee, insect-fly stings. Apart from these, many substances such as perfumes, detergents, creams, liquid soaps, paints, cigarette smoke, exhaust-air pollution, food additives, sweeteners can be allergens. Theoretically, everything around us can cause allergies.

In what ways do allergens enter the body?

There are 4 basic ways that allergens enter the body. The 1st route is the respiratory tract: It is taken through the lungs through the nose, trachea, bronchi and through the respiratory tract. 2nd Way: Those that come into contact with our skin are removed. Way 3: Intestines: The foods we eat and drink are absorbed through the intestinal tract. Way 4: the allergen can enter our body through our eyes.

What happens to the allergens that enter the body?

Acid gastric juice in the stomach, enzymes in the stomach and intestines break down the allergens and lose their damaging properties.

Our microbiota (beneficial bacteria, flora elements) in the skin, nose and intestines destroy these allergens.

Mucus and antimicrobial peptides released from the intestinal epithelium also destroy allergens.

Allergens that cross these pathways then encounter a row of barrier cells we call epithelium. Epithelial cells are tightly bound to each other, and most harmful substances cannot cross this barrier and enter the interior of the body. If this barrier is disrupted genetically or by factors encountered later, it cannot do its job properly and allergens enter.

The immune system kicks in to destroy the allergens that enter and develop tolerance.

How does the immune system react?

Under the epithelial cells are our immune cells. These cells are produced from lymph nodes. Allergens are recognized by immune cells called T cells, and a protective antibody with an Ig G structure that will tolerate that foreign substance is produced through B cells. This antibody protects us from this food and that is how the food is tolerated. When an allergic response develops, the antibody formed is an antibody called IgE. This antibody sits on the allergy cell we call the mast cell. When it encounters the allergen again, the allergen and Ig E combine and cause the release of many substances, especially Histamine, inside the mast cell. These substances also cause allergic reactions. We can detect this type of reaction with skin and blood allergy tests. Other types of hypersensitivity reactions also develop in the immune system to the allergen. Since these reactions are not IgE mediated, they are called non-Ig E reactions, where other antibodies are released and reactions occur longer after allergen ingestion. We cannot detect this type of reaction in classical allergy tests, but still the patient has an allergy. In this case, we do other provocation tests. In summary; Normally, when we first encounter the allergens in our environment (foods, irritants, house dust mites, pollen, mold fungus, pet dander, drugs…..), our body recognizes this allergen before it shows an allergic reaction. Generally, it produces an expected tolerance substance to this foreign substance. When this tolerance substance is encountered again with the same foreign substance, it does not react against it and we do not have a problem with that substance. If an allergic response is to occur, it produces substances that will cause hypersensitivity to this foreigner, and in this way, our body fights this foreigner in a way that harms the body.

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