Even though spring is no longer in the air, pollen and ragweed (and the like) still are, and will continue to be for quite some time. If you’re one of the unlucky ones who deals with chronic itchy, watery, swollen eyes and congestion, sneezing, etc., you’re probably very well attuned to the daily struggle that allergies can cause.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, affect millions of people each and every year. These allergies develop when our bodies, for whatever reason, become hypersensitive to the environment around us. What do we mean when we say “hypersensitive”? Basically it means that the individual suffering from the hypersensitivity is reacting to a substance that is considered harmless to most other people. The result for many, however, is nothing short of sheer misery.
So what causes this “hypersensitivity” and the resulting allergic reactions? Your immune system, which exists to recognize and remove harmful substances from your body, reacts to the substance and interprets it as being harmful. The resulting inflammation, sneezing, runny nose, etc. is your immune system’s way of trying to expel these “dangerous substances” from your body.
Unfortunately, no one knows for sure why some people wind up becoming allergic to certain substances while others do not. What we do know is that when an allergic reaction begins, it’s due to the body activating certain immune cells, known as mast cells. These cells have special receptors on their surface that work to recognize substances that could be considered either harmful or helpful to a body. When these mast cells detect a “harmful” substance, they release histamines, or chemicals that cause you to react by sneezing, coughing, etc., to rid the offending substance from your body.