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Allergies – How Did They Come About?

An allergy or also known as hypersensitivity is an abnormal reaction to certain substances that usually occur naturally. If an allergic person is exposed to these substances called allergens, the body's immune system gets ready to fight them. 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 tree, mold and mold fungus, house dust mites and pet dander.

Where did allergies come from? How did they originate? The earliest report of allergic disease is that of King Menses of Egypt who was killed by the sting of a wasp at some time between 3640 and 3300 BC. From ancient history, Britannicus, the son of the Roman Emperor Claudius was allergic to horses and developed a rash in his eyes and swelled that he could no longer see.

The concept of allergy was originally introduced in 1906 by the Viennese pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet. After he noted that some of his patients were hypersensitive to normally innocuous entities such as dust, pollen, or certain foods. Pirquet called this phenomenon "allergy" from the Ancient Greek words allos meaning "other" and ergon meaning "work". According to history, all forms of hypersensitivity were classified as allergies and it was caused by poor and improper immune system.

Scientists believe allergies originated millions of years ago as a way for the human body to free itself of parasites and invading worms. The body fights these elements and other invaders by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the intestines and lungs. IgE triggers immune cells to release a number of chemicals, one of which is histamine. Histamine produces hives, watery eyes, sneezing, and itching. The more a person is exposed to allergens, the more the body produces IgE and usually, allergies often get worse with age.

What causes an allergy? Allergies can be caused by just about any substance that you inhale or swallow, or that touches your skin. Today, allergies are extremely common and it continuously arises. They cause annoying symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, swollen and itchy eyes. They can also trigger other conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, ear infections and skin rashes. The most common symptom of allergies is allergic rhinitis, most popularly known as hay fever. These symptoms are similar with those of the common cold. The difference is, common cold runs for 7 to 10 days while allergic rhinitis can drag for weeks and even moths.

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