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Allergic Cascade

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The allergic cascade facts

  • The allergic response is usually very selective for specific allergens.
  • T- and B-lymphocytes play important roles in the allergic reaction.
  • Mast cells and basophils release a variety of chemical mediators and cytokines that cause allergic inflammation.
  • In an allergic cascade, the immediate or "early" phase allergic reaction is subsequently followed by a more prolonged "late" phase reaction.
  • Histamine is an important chemical mediator that causes many of the common allergic symptoms.
  • Knowledge of the allergic cascade has resulted in effective treatments for allergy. Future research is aimed at finding new agents that intervene at specific levels of the allergic reaction.

The immune system is very specific and goal oriented. Although you may be allergic to a number of substances, allergic reactions are directed at specific allergens. For example, you may be allergic to Bermuda grass but not oysters. At times, however, two or more foreign substances might appear similar in nature to the immune system, which may mistake one for the other and react to both. For example, if you are allergic to birch trees, your immune system may also react to apples or other fruits, which it mistakes for birch pollen. These cross-reactions occur because of similar allergens that are produced by a variety of plants. Unfortunately, this can result in a detrimental sequence of cellular and chemical interactions sometimes directed at harmless agents. The end result is a well-defined constellation of signs and symptoms produced by the "allergic cascade."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/25/2016


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