Both allergies and autoimmune diseases are based on a disturbed control system. In the case of allergies, our body overreacts to foreign substances that are not actually harmful, and in the case of autoimmune diseases, even the body’s own cells and structures are attacked by its own immune cells.
Allergies – overreaction of the immune system
An allergy or hypersensitivity reaction is an acquired, specific reaction to substances that are not actually harmful, so-called allergens. Our immune system reacts to repeated contacts with this allergen like to pathogens and tries to fight them off and eliminate them.
Today, more than 20 allergy triggers are known.000 different allergens. It is often a long journey to find out what the body is hypersensitive to, as allergens can trigger reactions in many different ways.
In the case of food allergy certain foods such as nuts, milk, cereals or shellfish cannot be tolerated.
In the contact allergy as the name already says, the (skin) contact to certain substances is sufficient to cause a reaction. These include metals such as nickel, fragrances, cosmetics and latex.
But also medications or the accompanying substances in injections can cause allergic reactions drug allergy triggers include, as well as insect bites for example, caused by bees, wasps or mosquitoes.
Difficult to avoid are especially inhalation allergy, as they enter the body through the air we breathe. The list of these allergens is long and ranges from pollen, spores and animal hair to house dust. Inhalant allergies are by far the most common allergy triggers, led by hay fever, which is triggered by pollen.
Symptoms of allergies:
Not only the allergy triggers, but also the symptoms have a wide range and show up individually very differently. The symptoms of an allergy can affect the whole body and occur both immediately and with a time delay.
- Allergic reactions of the respiratory tract: sniffling, sneezing, shortness of breath
- Allergic reactions of the eyes: reddened, itchy, watery eyes
- Allergic reaction of the gastrointestinal tract: diarrhea, flatulence, feeling of fullness, vomiting and inflammation of the mucous membranes
- Allergic reaction of the skin: redness, itching, swelling, weeping blisters, wheals, crusts or scaling
Basically, it is difficult to predict how an allergy will develop over time. But allergies often develop even further at a younger age.
With advancing age, however, this can be reversed, since due to the normal decline in immune function, the reactions of our immune system decrease and, at best, even decrease completely to allergens.
Autoimmune diseases – immune system fights against the body
In short, in autoimmune diseases, the body’s own tissue is attacked by certain cells and antibodies of the immune system. Normally, misdirected immune cells are sorted out by the body so that only cells that do not work against the body’s own antigens are present. This process, which is normal in itself, is called immune tolerance denotes.
In autoimmune diseases, however, immune tolerance is lost, as a result of which cells or antibodies are directed against the patient’s own tissues. most autoimmune diseases are detected by autoantibodies in the blood.
Why these malfunctions of the immune system occur is not known for sure, but it is suspected that there is an interaction of several factors. Genetic predisposition, vaccinations, toxins or infections with bacteria or viruses (e.g., infectious diseases). B. The epstein-barr virus) can play a role in this process. However, it is a fact that autoimmune diseases occur in women in 90% of cases, since female hormones tend to promote inflammation in women. Today, around 60 different autoimmune diseases are known to exist.
Examples of autoimmune diseases:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. In this case, misdirected cells attack the protective insulating layer of the nerve cells.
- In type 1 diabetes, the immune system in the pancreas destroys beta cells, which are needed to produce the hormone insulin.
- In rheumatoid joint inflammation (arthritis), tissue of the synovial membranes of the joints is considered to be non-endogenous. The erroneous immune reaction leads to inflammation, so that the synovial membranes proliferate and destroy cartilage that protects the joints.
- In psoriasis, immune cells classify the body’s own skin cells as foreign bodies, resulting in an inflammatory reaction of the skin.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is one of the autoimmune diseases of the connective tissue that can affect all organs (systemically). it leads to inflammation of vessels, muscles, joints and various organs. The skin is often affected and a symmetrical, butterfly-shaped reddening of the skin may appear on the face.
Frequent infections indicate a weakened immune system. did you know that kissing, a healthy intestinal flora or spicy food strengthens the immune system??
As the causes of autoimmune diseases If the cause of the disease is not known for certain, it is usually only possible to treat the symptoms.
In severe cases, immunosuppressants are prescribed to suppress the body’s normal defense function and thus stop the immune system’s misdirected process.
unfortunately, it can be seen that the number of allergies as well as autoimmune diseases is constantly increasing. one possible explanation, the so-called "hygiene theory", suspects exaggerated hygiene in childhood as the cause.
By having too little contact with a wide variety of microorganisms, we deprive our immune system of the opportunity to learn. But also an unhealthy lifestyle with stress, regular alcohol or nicotine consumption, little exercise and insufficient nutrient supply makes our immune system weaken.