This is a little booklet which can teach you about allergy through colourful images and matching text explanations. The book is not available for sale but we will post it on our web hoping that it might help if you suffer from an allergic disease. You can also get a free CD copy of the book when you come for an allergy consultation or an educational evening in The Artemisia Clinic.
Today we will post for you the beginning of the story. If you like it and want to read the continuation, remember to come back regularly to our web-site.
“ AAAAH THIS IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION. IT’S AN INAPPROPRIATE RESPONSE OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.”
INAPPROPRIATE RESPONSE OF MY IMMUNE SYSTEM?!!! DOCTOR, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
Let me explain. You see, from the first day of our life we are constantly exposed to aggressive attacks form the outside world: microorganisms, like bacteria, viruses or parasites, continually try to invade our body because it provides ideal means for their survival. But what would be good for them would mean disease for us! So to prevent this, our body is equipped with a complex defence army called immune system which is very smart and has different defending mechanisms for each type of aggressor, depending on their size, entrance gate and the weapons they use when they try to take advantage of our body. For small aggressors like viruses and bacteria which can gain easy access inside our body, it is the white cells in the blood that trigger the defence: as soon they encounter such an invader, they engulf it and in the same time signal other immune cells about the danger. It is not the same for parasites. These aggressors are much larger so they cannot get access into our body if they don’t break an opening into it. For this they release substances called digestive enzymes (a little bit like those we use to digest the food we eat) which destroy the bonds between the cells of our skin or the lining of our gut, nose or lungs. It is the recognition of the digestive enzymes that warns the immune system of a parasite invasion. However, parasites are usually much bigger than the immune cells and so they cannot be engulfed. Therefore the immune system has developed a different elimination strategy: it surrounds them by cells that release aggressive substances which irritate and damage the parasite’s skin. This results either in parasite killing or it makes it feel very unwelcome, determining it to leave our body.
An allergic reaction matches the responses to parasites, but it’s inappropriate because it is mounted against allergens which are agents that are not harmful. Consequently, the immune system from the protector of our body turns itself into an aggressor.
Come back on our website to follow up the story; next time you will learn about allergens - substances which can trigger allergic reactions.