Science ABC: Allergies – how they work, and what works against them

We’ve been getting lots and lots of questions regarding allergies, so here I will try to shed light on the issue as much as possible. Here’s the basics on how things work.

How allergies work


Your body has a fantastic immune system; the immune system protects you against all sorts of nasty things, identifying and destroying both foreign invaders and inside threats. It is your body’s way of keeping you safe and sound, despite the myriad of potential diseases and parasites lurking around. But as great as your immune system is, sometimes it makes mistakes.

Sometimes, it thinks what it has is a threat, but it’s not. The allergic immune system misidentifies an otherwise innocuous substance as harmful, then starts attacking it; the problem here is that the effects of this misindetification can vary from the mildest inconvenient to severe, life threatening situations. So basically, an allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system which can have extremely varied effects and symptoms.

Dust, pollen, and pet dander – these are all possible allergens. It’s estimated that if only one parent has allergies of any type, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have an allergy and all in all, there are over 60.000.000 people in the US alone suffering from allergy related problems.

People are different one from another, immune systems are different too, and therefore some are more prone to developing this condition. Most of the time, you inherit it. So how do you fight against allergies? Well…

Fighting allergies

Of course, prevention always works best. If you know you’re allergic to something, or even have some reason that suggests this (for example one of your parents is) get yourself tested and avoid future problems. Aside from telling you what you should stay clear of, allergy testing can help confirm/rule out allergies and consequently reduce adverse reactions and limit unnecessary avoidance and medications.

But if you’ve got some allergy, like say a dog allergy, but you want to keep it under control, and keep the dog; what do you do? Well first of all, it all depends on the severity of the condition. If your allergies put you in a life threatening position, then you’d best avoid getting into that position, and that’s really not something you want to tamper with.

But if your symptoms are weaker, then you can fight against it! There are drugs which keep the symptoms down, allowing you to effectively live your life as if you don’t even have allergies. From all the drugs, we would especially recommend Zyrtec; if you want to find out more about how you can treat and manage allergies, they’ve set up a 10 part clip series which explains things much better than I could do here.

So if allergy symptoms get you down, then you should know this is not a permanent sentence! There are things you can do, there are options – seek them out.


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