Does having allergies mean that you have a decreased immunity?

No, allergy isn’t a sign of decreased immunity. It is a specific type of immune dysregulation. Autoimmunity, inflammatory disorders such as IBS and IBD, even cancer are examples of other types of immune dysregulation.

Quality and target of immune responses and not their strength is the core issue in allergy. Let's see how.

  • Allergens, substances known to induce allergy, are common. Some such as house dust mite and pollen are even ubiquitous.
  • Everyone is exposed to allergens yet only a relative handful are clinically diagnosed with allergy.
  • Thus allergens don't inherently trigger allergy. They can but only in those predisposed to allergy, not in everyone.
  • Each allergic person makes pathological immune responses to not all but to only one or a few structurally related allergens while the non-allergic don’t.
  • Those diagnosed with allergy aren't necessarily more susceptible to other diseases.

If the immune response of each allergic person is selectively distorted when responding to specific allergens, what makes someone allergic? Obviously a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

Thing is allergy prevalence has spiked in recent decades, especially in developed countries. Too short a time period for purely genetic mutation-based changes to be the sole cause since that would take multiple generations to have such a population wide effect. That tilts the balance towards environmental change but what specifically?

Starting in the 1960s, epidemiologists began reporting a link between infections and allergy – more infections in childhood, less the allergy risk. Back then microbiota weren't even a consideration but now we have learned better so the Hygiene Hypothesis has expanded to include them.

Essentially, the idea is that the current Western style of living that rapidly developed over the 20th century fundamentally and dramatically reduced lifetime and crucially, early life exposure to environmental microorganisms, many of which would have normally become part of an individual's gut microbiota after they were born.

How could gut microbiota composition changes lead to selective allergies in specific individuals? Genetic predisposition should be taken as a given. However, natural history suggests that such predisposition transitioned to a full fledged clinical condition much more rarely in times past.

Let’s briefly consider how that equation might have fundamentally changed in recent times. Consider indoor sanitation, piped chlorinated water, C-sections, milk formula, ultra-processed foods, lack of regular contact with farm animals (as a surrogate for nature) and profligate, ubiquitous, even excessive use of antimicrobial products such as antibiotics, to name just a few important factors.

Though some of these were beneficial in their own way, epidemiological data now suggests that such innovations in living conditions also disrupted the intimate association with the natural world that had been the norm for human societies since time immemorial. In the process such dramatic changes appear to have profoundly reduced human gut microbiota diversity among many, mostly in developed countries.

Unbeknownst to us, an epidemic of absence*, as Moises Velasquez-Manoff evocatively puts it, has thus been invisibly taking place across many human societies over the 20th century in lock step with specific changes in living standards.

Such sudden and profound reduction in gut microbiota diversity thus emerges as the trigger that flips the normally hidden predisposition in some into clinically overt allergy. Actual mechanics of the process remain the subject of active research.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Have you ever thought about the nature of allergies?

#Science #health #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
vasily tchaikovsky
no allergy,but good info thanks
Sep 23, 2021 10:00PM
My allergies developed as an adult but I have an autoimmune disease which doesn't help and I'm 65 now.
Oct 14, 2019 8:00PM
Robert L Hutchison
When I was younger I had terrific hay fever but as I grew older, they diminished a lot but every once in a while, I get an attack, but I have trouble deciding if it's hay fever or a cold!
Oct 1, 2019 5:08PM
Good info! Thanks.
Aug 22, 2019 5:28PM
Shawn Kennedy
Karin Johansson, When i was a Little boy i was allergic to Grass BAD. BUT, I Prayed to God in Heaven to take it a-way for me. Since then. NO Allergies.
Jun 24, 2019 8:35AM
Karin Johansson
I am allergic to grass but has worked as a garden worker and also has a garden at home where i cut the grass.
Jun 23, 2019 4:59PM
Maggie Schmidt
Numerous allergies asthma etc
Jun 23, 2019 4:51AM
Linalinda Eichin
Interesting subjects great to know
Jun 23, 2019 12:16AM
Terry Lee Hammel
No allergies.
Jun 22, 2019 8:38PM
David Holmes
I have now allergies that I know of.
Jun 22, 2019 8:25PM
hector tubens
Interesting information. Learn something new everyday.
Jun 22, 2019 6:51PM
Carol Bruyere
good to know
Jun 22, 2019 5:19PM
Eileen Leonard Cassidy
I believe that the preponderance of allergy like symptoms in people who have never exhibited allergic reactions before is directly caused by the use of leaf and debris blowers by the ubiquitous landscapers!
Jun 21, 2019 5:58PM

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