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Allergy: Explained in a simple way

Qué es la alergia

What is allergy explained in a very simple way: Basic Concepts ( Part I )

Dr Tito Rodriguez Bouza

Know the causes of your disease and the reason for your treatments, without leaving home with an in-depth and quality consultation.

This series of articles is oriented so that all patients can understand in an extremely simple and understandable way what the mechanisms of their disease are and therefore they can understand the reason for their treatment.

What is Allergy?

Allergy is a word that comes from the Greek and is the mixture of the terms αλλος (allos = other) and εργον (ergon = action, work).

From the very origin of the word, can be drawn that allergy is nothing other than the defense or immune system of our body attacking those substances that should not cause problems such as pollens (grasses, olive trees , salsola …) dust mites, fungi, animals such as dogs or cats, foods such as peanuts, fruits, fish or shellfish and of course drugs such as penicillins, aspirin (NSAIDs), quinolones among others.

In this way, the Defense System is therefore doing other work (Allos + ergon = Allergy)

What is the immune system?

The immune system is the one in charge of defending ourselves against infections and other diseases such as tumors. It is composed of both elements that we can see simply, such as the skin, and cellular elements that can only be seen under a microscope or with more complex methods. There are two types of immune systems:

  • Innate immune system: We are born with it, and it does not have the ability to learn.
  • Adaptive immune system: We develop it over time, adapting to our environment and protecting ourselves from what can harm us.

In other words: the body will learn what may or may not be dangerous for us and creates the mechanisms to defend itself as it detects threats.

You cannot defend yourself against a threat if you have not been able to see it before.

Why allergy is produced? What are the Basic Mechanisms for allergy?

Without going into details of greater depth, it can be said that the problem of this other job or allergy occurs when the adaptive immune system, that is, the one that learns over time to avoid what the body believes is dangerous, makes mistakes and begins to recognize that a pollen, animal or a drug is something that can harm us and begins to attack it.

Substances that are mistakenly recognized as dangerous are then called “allergens”. Several exposures to the substance to which we will be allergic may pass until one fine day the adaptive immune system error will occur and from that moment, called in allergology as “sensitization”, defense mechanisms will be created that will attack pollen, animal or drug from the next time we come in contact with it.

The attack mechanisms will create a release of proteins from these cells, which are what will give our symptoms, the best-known example being histamine, which by itself will cause itching, redness and swelling of the skin.

A typical example is when we move to another location and the first year (where “sensitization” occurs) we have no problems with pollens flying in the air during the spring but in the second year, the system is ready to attack. these pollens and therefore we develop allergy symptoms.

Understanding these concepts, in this way automatically answers the question of whether allergies can pass from mothers to children, the answer being no, since it depends on the adaptive immune system what it is that learns over time and not the innate. which is the one we all have at birth.

Which are the most common allergies?:

Allergic rhinitis:

This disease characterized by itching, sneezing, watery secretions and nasal congestion that occurs when allergens are able to fly through the air and be recognized by the immune system located in the area of ​​the nose.

When this happens, a series of proteins will be released in this area that will be the ones that give rise to our symptoms.

Although the disease itself is not dangerous, it does create a very important interference in the quality of life of these patients, affecting their sleep, work, leisure and studies, among other activities.

Allergic Asthma:

This disease is characterized by shortness of breath that is typically accompanied by wheezing and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

It occurs when allergens capable of flying in the air reach the bronchi, which are the tubes that carry air from our nose to the lungs.

Since the reaction of the immune system occurs in the bronchi, these pipes thicken and therefore it is more difficult for the air to dare them, creating said difficulty when breathing and whistling as if it were a flute. This disease can be very dangerous to your life and you must treat it correctly.


This disease that is characterized by itchy redness and hives on the skin, and which may also consist of or be accompanied by swelling in the mucous membranes such as the throat area.

As one expert in urticaria said, this disease is exasperating for both the doctor and the patient.

Unfortunately in many cases we cannot find the allergen that is creating this reaction because it is the body itself that produces it, while the patient searches among different doctors and on the Internet until one of them gives the solution.

It is a disease that is generally not dangerous but it does greatly influence the quality of life of the patient if it creates a very important interference in the quality of life of these patients, affecting their sleep, work, leisure and studies among other activities.

In some cases it can be dangerous, especially when it affects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. This disease must be studied and treated to avoid these complications

Drug Allergy:

This disease is characterized by reactions that can be of very different forms and occur behind the body recognizing as allergens to those drugs that are prescribed.

It differs from a side effect because in this case it is the immune system that produces the reaction and not the drug itself.

All reactions to drugs must be studied by an allergist since sometimes being allergic to a drug causes us to be allergic to similar drugs and also drug reactions can compromise the life of the patient

Food Allergy:

This disease is characterized by reactions that can be of very different forms and that generally take place shortly after generally less than 1 hour of the ingestion of the food. In most cases, you are not allergic to a single food but also to some food similar to this, such as those allergic to peanuts who are also allergic to other nuts.

These reactions can be very dangerous and therefore should be studied by your allergist.

Role of the Allergist:

The role of the allergist can be summarized in:

  • Identification of the disease.
  • Identification of allergens.
  • Inform about how to avoid these allergens *.
  • Provide drugs that prevent symptoms.
  • Inform the patient of his illness *.

Videoconference and Allergy:

Present use of videoconference in Medicine

It is a novel method that has the fundamental advantage over the face-to-face allergy consultation of having the time necessary to inform the patient on how to avoid allergens * as well as explain in detail how the disease occurs *, with complex scientific terms or simple as required by the patient. Ask for allergy consultation online  

Request your consultation online and learn the causes of your illness and the reasons for your treatments, without leaving home and with an in-depth and quality consultation.

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