Term Paper: Allergy in Human

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Allergy in Humans

Allergy was first recognized in 1906 by Clarens Von Pirquet, a pediatrics professor in Vienna, as a group of early skin reactions to cowpox vaccination (Kim and Drake-Lee 2002). Today, allergy is applied to more specific IgE-mediated reactions or to all immunological responses to environmental antigens, which cause tissue inflammation and organ dysfunction. It was first identified as hay fever, a seasonal allergy caused by grasses in the 1800's and during the pollen season. Dr. Morril Wyman, an American physician, isolated ragweed as the cause of autumnal catarrh. With the discovery of pollen etiology, many began to experiment with pollen extracts in trying to immunize those suffering from rhinitis and asthma (Kim and Drake-Lee). But the current-day concept of allergy exceeds hay fever but as a host of much more complicated and immune reaction to many sources, including molds, house dust and food (Brostoff and Gamlin 2002).

Allergy in humans is simply an abnormal reaction or increased sensitivity to certain substances when exposed to these substances, otherwise harmless to those without the same sensitivity (McKinley Health Center 2002). Those who do possess a special antibody called Immunoglobulin or IgE, which reacts with these environmental substances negatively or in a harmful way. These substances are called allergens and the reaction between them causes the release of other substances, such as histamines, which in turn produce allergic symptoms on the skin, in the nose, the eyes, check and other parts of the body. The most common causes are animal dander, pollens, house, dust, house dust, mites, molds, foods and drugs, bee and wasp stings, and other substances, including feathers, wool, dyes, cosmetics and perfumes. The most common allergies are hay fever, conjunctivitis, asthma, eczema, urticaria or hives, contact dermatitis, food allergy, insect allergies, and occupational allergy. Hay fever is caused by the pollens of grasses, weeds and trees or mold spores and most commonly experienced during pollinating periods. The lining of the nose becomes swollen and there can be sneezing and itchiness of the throat and eyes. Perennial allergic rhinitis has similar symptoms as hay fever, except that it persists all year round and is susceptible to non-seasonal allergens, like house dust and certain molds. Conjunctivitis makes the eyes itchy and is associated with allergic rhinitis. Asthma obstructs the flow of air to the lungs and breathing becomes difficult. There is a wheezing sound as air rushes through narrowed airways. There can also be trouble some cough. It commonly begins in childhood and tends to recur or become chronic. Eczema is a condition wherein the skin is irritated or itchy and rash develops. The cause not uncertain but it appears to run in families. It usually starts on the face, moves to the elbows and backs of the knees, on the neck, ankles, the wrists and back of the hands. However, it may also be due to skin bacteria and scratching when the skin is broken. Urticaria or hives occur suddenly. The skin becomes warm, reddish and itchy. Blotches may appear as raised wheals and in different sizes. In almost all cases, its cause is not known. Contact dermatitis has similar symptoms as eczema, but the cause is direct contact with substances, such as nickel, rubber, chromium, latex and preservatives. Unlike other types of allergy, contact dermatitis does not develop from the production of IgE antibodies but usually due to increased sensitivity to a substance, which the particular part of the body comes in contact with. Food allergy results when the body's digestive system or the stomach disagrees with ingested food. Symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation. Eczema, hives, asthmatic attacks or even anaphylactic shock may occur because of food allergy, often because of the ingestion of certain foods, such as nuts and iodinated shellfish, like lobster and shrimp. Insect allergy is the toxic reaction of the body to insect sting. Symptoms include nettle rash, running nose and eyes, swelling of the throat, asthmatic attacks, or fainting. When an entire extremity swells, a doctor may recommend adrenaline. Occupational allergy refers to episodes of allergic reactions to working conditions of dust, vapors, gases or fumes. Often, these working conditions bring people in contact with substances like nickel, chromium, rubber, dyes, formaldehyde and glues, which cause eczema. Farmers also develop the reaction to grain dust. The extent or degree of the eczema depends on the length of exposure and a person's sensitivity to the substance. Any part of the skin can become allergic and it takes weeks, months, or years before it shows up. The most frequently affected parts are the hands, arms and the face, which are the least protected,

Sometimes, those who contract it get better during the weekend but re-develop the reaction upon return to work (McKinley Health Center).

Statistics say that almost half of the American population suffers from some allergic reactions and 50% of them show in the eye are (Myers 2005). Quite often, these reactions, which appear in the eye area, are due to exposure to new particulates, pollution, and genetic factors. The allergic response starts when the body's immune system reacts to the substance, called immunogen or allergen. The reaction can be innate or acquired in time. The mast cell appears linked to chemotaxis, vasodilation and anti-coagulation. Mast cells help control vascular permeability and repair injured connective tissue. There are 5,000 mast cells per millimeter in the conjunctiva. Another major component of an allergic reaction is the IgE immunoglobulin, composed of five classes of proteins, which bind with their own types of antigen. In the first reaction phase, histamine, serotonin, neural proteases, heparin and chemtactic agents come out of the mast cells and produce erhythemia, edema, and increased vascular permeability, in turn producing the symptoms and signs of irritation. The second phase is more destructive and involves prolonged inflammation. The four types of hypersensitivity consist of immediate or anaphylactic reactions; cytotoxic reactions; immuno-complex reactions; and cell-mediated or delayed reactions. Contact dermatitis, hay fever, and conjunctivitis are examples of the first type. Cicatricial or ocular pemphigoid is the only example for the second type. Examples for the third type are Steven's=Johnson syndrome, Sjogre's syndrome, Reiter's syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus. And examples for the fourth type are contact dermatitis, phylectenulosis and atopic kerato-conjunctivitis (Leung).

Treatment for allergy in human includes medicinal drugs, such as antihistamines, nose drops and nose sprays (Brostoff and Gramlin 2002). The easiest way to prevent or treat allergy is avoiding it. Common sense will eliminate the allergen at home, in the garden, roads, counting pollens and other ways of avoiding hay fever during vacations and at other times. There are also allergy shots meant to desensitisize and enzyme-potentiated and provocation neutralization shots. Alternative treatments for hay fever include steam, saltwater nose drops and irrigating the nose with a Water Pie. Ionized air, hypnotherapy and acupuncture may also be tried. There are herbal medicines, which have also been suggested and tried. There is also more useable and available information on hay fever and other allergies and on the other forms of rhinitis, such as post-poital rhinitis, food intolerances, and other airborne pollutants (Brostoff and Gamlin).

Realistic management of allergy in human should first accurately identify the allergen (McKinley Health Center 2002). It must attempt to eliminate causative factors from the person's or patient's immediate environment whenever and wherever possible; reduce tissue irritation; and decrease immunological reactivity through vaccination. In the case of ocular allergic reaction, the symptoms must be reduced and tissue damage prevented. The approaches or treatments are similar and the type and frequency of medications will depend on the diagnosis, severity and the person's life style (Myers 2005). Topical supportive therapies now include biological tears to wash away debris and environmental allergies; avoiding the offending substance; soothing cold compresses and topical antihistamine preparations; and the new olopatadine hydro-chloride… [END OF PREVIEW]

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