Allergens: The Invaders
Your immune system targets and protects you against health threats like viruses and harmful bacteria. In this photo you can see some bacteria (pink).
But if you're allergic to pet dander, for example, your immune system sees them as a threat, just like a harmful virus. So when you're exposed to pet dander, your immune system is ready to fight.
When your immune system reacts to an allergen, the effects on your health can range widely. Some immune reactions are mild, like the nasal problems being discussed here. However some reactions can be life-threatening, as in the case of anaphylaxis, also known as anaphylactic shock.
While some allergic reactions are mild and may be restricted to certain parts of the body, anaphylaxis is severe and affects the health of the whole body.
Anaphylaxis comes on quickly, and it can be deadly. It causes tissues to release histamine, along with other substances that cause breathing problems and other symptoms like
- abdominal pain,
- difficulty swallowing,
- facial swelling, and
Like anaphylaxis, asthma can be life-threatening in severe cases. Asthma often causes your breathing passages to become inflamed and tight, causing symptoms such as wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath.
The relationship between asthma and allergies is complicated. The two conditions seem to be related, as many people with asthma are also prone to allergic reactions.