Thursday, February 02, 2006


In order to score English for Science and Technology (EST), you must always read scientific essays.

A misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system, the body system of defense against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens (the agents of infection). The allergic reaction is misguided in that these foreign substances are usually harmless. The substances that trigger allergy are called allergen. Examples include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and certain foods. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic.

Although allergies can develop at any age, the risk of developing allergies is genetic. It is related to ones family history of allergy. If neither parent is allergic, the chance for allergies is about 15%. If one parent is allergic, the risk increases to 30% and if both are allergic, the risk is greater than 60%.

Allergens cause the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that all of us have in small amounts. Allergic persons, however, produce IgE in abnormally quantities. Normally, this antibody is important in protecting us from parasites, but not from other allergens. During the sensitization period in allergy, IgE is overproduced. It coats certain potentially explosive cells that contain chemicals including histamine. These chemicals, in turn, cause inflammation and the typical allergic symptoms. This is how the immune system becomes misguided and primed to cause an allergic reaction when stimulated by an allergen.

The most common allergic conditions include hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, allergic eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), allergic eczema, hives (urticaria), and allergic shock (also called anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock). For a thumbnail sketch of each of these conditions:

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is the most common of the allergic diseases and refers to seasonal nasal symptoms that are due to pollens. Year round or perennial allergic rhinitis is usually due to indoor allergens, such as dust mites or molds. Symptoms result from the inflammation of the tissues that line the inside of the nose (mucus lining or membranes) after allergens are inhaled. Adjacent areas, such as the ears, sinuses, and throat can also be involved. The most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal itching (rubbing)
  • Itchy ears and throat
  • Post nasal drip (throat clearing)

Related Posts
Introduction to EST
Scientific Reading: Mesothelioma

No comments: