Allergies and Intolerances

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Allergies and Intolerances




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Articles on Allergies and Intolerances

Some people are abnormally sensitive to substances in the air they breathe, in their food or in something they touch.  The same substances may be harmless to other family members and to other people in general.  This sensitivity may be present from birth, but it is more often built up as a result of repeated contacts with the offending substances.  The sensitivity is called allergy; and if comparatively prompt and violent, the body's reaction is called anaphylaxis and  so many of its common manifestations are in the skin. 


Allergy is the body's response to the presence of some aggravating agent called an allergen.  Individuals act differently in their responses to allergens; therefore some people are more allergic than others.  It used to be assumed that all allergens were protein substances, and it was common to speak of "protein sensitivity."  It is now known that some allergens are carbohydrates, and at least a few are chemically related to the fats.  All allergens have one thing in common - they stimulate a sensitive person to react by producing antibodies.  The allergic reaction results from intricate chemical processes, such as enzyme reactions, and is related to the processes by which immunity is developed.  Becoming immune to a certain germ whose products have served as an allergen is one form of allergic response.  When the antibodies which a certain allergen produces are stationary within a group of the body's cells rather than being free in the bloodstream, then these cells in which the antibodies are located may be unfavorably affected when exposed to this specific allergen. 


A food allergy, or hypersensitivity, is an abnormal response to a certain food that is triggered by the immune system or an adverse reaction to food that involves an immune response; also called food-hypersensitivity reaction.  This food hypersensitivities can be categorized either as food allergies, which elicit an immune response, or food intolerances, which are caused by other physiological processes.  However, the symptoms of food intolerances, even though they resemble those of a food allergy, is not responsible by the immune system.  Most of us suffer from food allergies and food intolerances to a certain extent.  Children suffered higher percentage of food allergies compared to adults.  Two features of the human immune response is involved in an allergic reaction.  One is the production of a type of protein called an antibody that circulates through our blood.  The other is the mast cell, a specific cell that occurs in all body tissues, but common in parts of the body that are typical sites of allergic reactions, such as the nose and throat, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and skin.  When a person is allergic to a particular food, may first feel itching in the mouth as they start to put in the food.  After digestion in the stomach, abnormal abdominal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea or pain may start.  When food allergens enter and travel through the bloodstream, blood pressure will drop and as they further reach the skin, they can induce hives or eczema, or cause asthma when they reach the lungs. This process normally takes place within a few minutes to an hour.


  1. Food Allergies in Children and Infants




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