Allergy or hypersensitivity (type 1 allergy) is an abnormal reaction to protein substances that occur naturally.
Our immune system is a reflection of our unconscious minds. It is now proposed that many allergic reactions may have a fundamentally psychological cause.
It is possible for example for someone to trigger an immune response psychologically and unconsciously as a way of escaping from a stressful situation or occupation. The process is unconscious and may be one of our fundamental "survival" systems. It is our unconscious mind's way of telling us to avoid a situation.
Hypnotherapy can progressively undo this learnt pattern (not suitable for eg nut allergies) and remove the conditioned immune response.
If an allergic person is exposed to these substances called allergens, the body's immune system gets ready to fight them. White blood cells (B-lymphocytes) produce an antidote (antibody) against the allergen. The antibody sticks to the surface of the allergy cells. Now the body is ready to fight back the next time it is exposed to the allergen. This process is called sensitisation.
The antigen, or allergen (A), for instance pollen or dust, enters the body and attaches to the mast cell (B) via the immunoglobulin (C). This reaction triggers the mast cell to release histamine (D). The released histamine causes the allergy symptoms, such as sneezing. If the allergic response is severe, ie if a very large quantity of histamine is released, the blood vessels will react by dilating. This will result in a decrease of the blood pressure (hypotension). This severe allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock.
After this change, there is an allergic reaction every time the body is exposed to the allergen. The allergen sticks to the antibodies on the surface of the allergy cells. This coupling causes the granula (little stores in the allergy cells) to release histamine, which causes the symptoms of allergy. Depending on the size of the exposure to the allergen and where on the body it happens, there will be an allergic reaction in the form of hay fever, asthma or nettle rash.
The histamine dilates the blood vessels, causes the mucous membranes (lining tissues of the nose and airways) to swell due to the liquid leaking and stimulates the glands in the nose and the respiratory passages to produce mucus (phlegm). Substances that make the musculature of the respiratory passages contract are released along with the histamine. It becomes difficult to breathe and an asthma attack may follow.
What are allergens?
Allergens are microscopic protein substances that are common and provoke allergic people to produce antidotes (antibodies).
The most common allergy provoking substances are:
- pollen from weeds, grass, flowers and trees
- mould and mould fungus
- house dust mites
- fur from cats and dogs
What other things provoke attacks?
Allergic people have very sensitive mucous membranes, which can be irritated by lots of different substances including smoke, pollution, cooking smells, perfume and strong odours. Children who are often exposed to passive smoking are more at risk of developing allergic reactions.