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Does Allergy have an Impact on Immunity?

 

Marysia T. Recto, MD, FPPS, FPSAAI

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Immunity is oftentimes attributed to the ability of our body to fight off any infections whether viral, bacterial or fungal microorganisms. However, immunity goes beyond that. Aside from protection from infection, our immune system is designed to perform several functions in order to maintain health: protection against cancer, cell renewal and immune balance against autoimmune and allergic disease.

What is inflammation?

Activation of the immune system occurs to protect our body from foreign invaders. Several immune cells and their products called cytokines and chemokines produce a process called inflammation which will control infection. However, at the same time, this inflammatory process must be controlled or else other diseases, such allergies, can emerge due to overactivity of certain cells that cause destruction of body tissues through allergic processes.

What are allergies?

Allergies are inflammatory conditions which are triggered by environmental factors called allergens. Allergens are proteins coming from food, chemicals or airborne sources such as dust mites, pollen, insects, molds, and animal dander. Genes and environmental factors may be responsible for the development of allergic diseases in a person. Allergic diseases have no cure, and only preventive or avoidance measures and anti-inflammatory treatment may be effective in controlling these conditions.

Allergies and the immune system

Patients with allergies are also observed to have a relatively weaker immune system than those without making them prone to infections. Why is this so considering that the allergic patient’s immune system is already hyperactive?

This occurs because the cells of the defense arm to infections of the immune system functions poorly in allergic people despite the apparent over-activity of the allergic immune cells. Therefore, balancing of the immune system is the key to controlling allergic diseases.

Immunomodulation may be achieved through many interventions done simultaneously such as proper diet, exercise, good sleep, sunlight exposure, exposure to good microbes (probiotics), allergen avoidance, and certain vitamins, minerals or medications.

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