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Allergy and hay fever: The causes

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About the development of allergies

First the bad news: Even today, exactly how allergies arise has not been fully investigated. According to research, hereditary factors and also environmental influences are possible causes.

However, it is certain that an impaired immune system sets the stage for allergies. That is because an allergy will always be triggered if the immune system treats a harmless substance as a hazardous one. As a consequence, the allergenic substances (= allergens) can trigger a variety of symptoms in the body, such as itchy eyes or a runny nose.

First contact: symptomless but consequential

When an allergenic substance enters our body for the first time, it shows no outward symptoms. However, inside the body, multiple reactions by the immune system ensure that the allergen is classed as hostile and that the corresponding antibodies are formed (immunglobulin Type E). In technical terms, this process is referred to as sensitisation.

With each subsequent contact: allergic cascade

With each additional contact with the allergen, the IgE (after their binding to mast cells) lead the release of allergenic messengers such as histamines. As this happens quite quickly, the subsequent allergic reaction is called an immediate reaction. There may be itchy eyes, a runny nose and other symptoms during the episode.

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