Allergies and Autoimmunity

People might have often witnessed a sudden unease like sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, running nose, wheezing or asthma when they travel to a new place or enter new surroundings. However, they fade away as soon as they come back. This is a reaction of the body to the changing environment.

In this section, we would discuss allergies, its causes and autoimmunity.

What is Allergy?

Allergy is an immunological hypersensitivity mediated by immunoglobulin E antibody (IgE). It is not related to any disease or infections. Allergies can be seen in many organs, but most commonly they affect the skin and mucous membranes.

Our body is sensitive to certain particles in the surroundings and the allergy are mainly caused by the allergens. They are the types of antigen that produces an abnormally vigorous immune response.

Certain features of them are explained below:

Allergies and Autoimmunity

  • Common allergens include pollen, dust, feathers, animal dander, mites, latex and even certain food.
  • The symptoms of allergies include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, running nose, itchy rashes, red eyes, difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
  • Allergies are caused due to the release of chemicals such as histamine and serotonin.
  • In response to the allergens, our body produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE).
  • Antihistamine, adrenaline, and steroids are the few drugs which are given to reduce the symptoms of allergy.
  • In severe reactions, adrenaline- hormones released by the adrenal glands, most commonly known as epinephrine, is injected into the body.
  • An allergy to at least one allergen is very common throughout the world.
  • However, with the modern lifestyle, people are more prone to allergies due to low immunity and high sensitivity to the environment.

Autoimmunity

Organs of the Immune system

What is Autoimmunity?

It is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own healthy cells and tissues. A disease which results due to this kind of response is called an autoimmune disease. The higher vertebrates are capable of recognizing foreign antigens. Due to the memory-based acquired immunity, their immune system could very well distinguish between their own cells and the foreign organisms. However, due to genetic or some unknown reason the body attacks its own cells and causes autoimmune diseases. The most common example of an autoimmune disease is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Others are Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, polymyositis (PM), etc.

Similarities Between Allergies and Autoimmune Disease

The main similarities between the two are:

  • Both symptom results in a general feeling of fatigue and sickness.
  • Itching is a common symptom of both Allergies and autoimmune diseases.
  • Both the allergies and autoimmune diseases cause some sort of redness or swelling, due to the higher immune response.

Differences Between Allergies and Autoimmune Disease

The main difference between the two are:

Allergies

Autoimmune Disease

A condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substances.

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.

The allergies are mainly caused by an external trigger such as pollens, certain foods, medicines, insects, animals, etc.

Autoimmune diseases are the results of internal trigger to our own body’s cell.

Examples include: Skin allergy, Sinusitis, Asthma,watery eyes, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, etc.

Examples include: Type 1 diabetes Multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

For more detailed information about allergies and autoimmunity, visit BYJU’S.


Practise This Question

Increased asthmatic attacks in certain seasons are related to :