A molecular switch to stop inflammation

Our immune system is vital to us and can sometimes overreact causing chronic illnesses, such as for instance rheumatism and allergy. Now, researchers from Umeå University and University of Gothenburg have identified a molecular ...

Oct 14, 2015
popularity133 comments 0

Researchers develop tool to predict need for life support

It is now possible to determine which patients have an increased chance of one day needing life support with mechanical ventilation. Researchers have developed a simple tool to predict an individual's five-year risk of requiring ...

Oct 14, 2015
popularity5 comments 0

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

Latest Spotlight News

First language wires brain for later language-learning

You may believe that you have forgotten the Chinese you spoke as a child, but your brain hasn't. Moreover, that "forgotten" first language may well influence what goes on in your brain when you speak English or French today.

Genes for a longer, healthier life found

Out of a 'haystack' of 40,000 genes from three different organisms, scientists at ETH Zurich and a research consortium in Jena have found genes that are involved in physical ageing. If you influence only one of these genes, ...

Watching eyes prevent littering

People are less likely to drop litter if it has printed eyes on it, researchers at Newcastle University, UK, have found. An image of watching eyes reduced the odds of littering by around two thirds.

Anxiety can kill your social status

Neuroscientists at EPFL identify a brain region that links anxious temperament to low social status. The researchers were able to tweak social hierarchy in animals by using vitamin B3.

Wiring rules untangle brain circuitry

Our brains contain billions of neurons linked through trillions of synaptic connections, and although disentangling this wiring may seem like mission impossible, a research team from Baylor College of Medicine took on the ...

Higher cigarette taxes linked to fewer infant deaths

Higher taxes and prices for cigarettes are strongly associated with lower infant mortality rates in the United States, according to a new study from Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan released Dec. 1 in ...

Researchers grow retinal nerve cells in the lab

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a method to efficiently turn human stem cells into retinal ganglion cells, the type of nerve cells located within the retina that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain. ...