Allergy

Live coverage of the immune system at work

To better understand what happens during immune reactions in the body, researchers at Tübingen University have developed a new way of labeling T-cells, allowing them to track the T-cell movement in mice using non-invasive ...

Jan 22, 2015
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Findings do not support chlorhexidine bathing in ICUs

Once daily bathing with disposable cloths with the topical antimicrobial agent chlorhexidine of critically ill patients did not reduce the incidence of health care-associated infections, according to a study appearing in ...

Jan 20, 2015
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Eczema woes not just skin deep

Eczema wreaks havoc on its sufferers' lives with health problems that are more than skin deep. Adults who have eczema—a chronic itchy skin disease that often starts in childhood—have higher rates of smoking, drinking ...

Jan 15, 2015
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May contain nuts: But how much is too much?

In a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the researchers identified the level of five of the most common food allergens which would cause a reaction in only ten percent of peo ...

Jan 11, 2015
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Skin microbes trigger specific immune responses

New research in mice shows that the immune system in the skin develops distinct responses to the various microbes that naturally colonize the skin, referred to as commensals. A team led by scientists at the National Institute ...

Jan 05, 2015
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An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.

Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in the human population and cause symptoms such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, hay fever, or an asthma attack. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees are often associated with these severe reactions.

A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. These include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling. Blood tests can also be done to look for an allergen-specific IgE.

Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, use of medications such as anti-histamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as decongestants that reduce the symptoms. Many of these medications are taken by mouth, though epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic reactions, is injected. Immunotherapy uses injected allergens to desensitize the body's response.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

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