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Allergies: what are they?

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A guest post by Michael Ravitsky of

I have had a sensitive system for as long as I’ve been alive – I had to have my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was 5 – and I have always been very allergic to dust.  I have got quite used to keeping a pack of tissues on me and cleaning my house with above-average tenacity, but only within the last couple of years have I asked myself, why?  Why do I sneeze repeatedly when I enter a dusty area while by brother does not?  And why is my brother so sensitive to mould, but my body is OK with it?

These questions got Eugene and I into the air quality maintenance business and it led us to do a lot of research.  I will explain very briefly what is going on within your body during an allergic reaction and what explanation the medical community has for why we have allergies in the first place.

Cells called mastocytes, or Mast cells, play a large role in allergies.  These cells are coated with a substance called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).  When an allergen enters the body and attaches to IgE, the Mast cell releases Histamine, a chemical that initiates the inflammatory response.  This is our body’s autonomous reaction to pathogens and anything that may be harmful.  The inflammatory response consists of redness, swelling, and the stimulation of certain cells that work to fight off germs.

This function is crucial to keeping the body healthy.  During an allergic reaction, however, the inflammatory response is triggered by a substance that is inherently harmless to the body, such as dust mite excrement or pollen granules.  The allergen can be different for anyone; people may be allergic to many different things or to none at all.

Common ones include dust mites, pollen, mould, and pet dander.  These are substances that are not actually harmful to your body, but your immune system thinks that they are.  Why is this?  Simply put, nobody really knows for sure. What is clear is that the percentage of people with allergies is increasing. Exposure to metropolitan pollution in the first year of life could be a risk factor. offers Air Purifiers.



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