Allergy-causing substances such as pollen surely pose no great threat to our well-being; neither do cat dander and dust mites. Yet contact with such allergens causes millions of us to swell, wheeze, scratch, and sneeze as though under siege. In extreme cases, in reaction to insect stings and certain foods such as peanuts, an overwhelming allergic response, called anaphylactic shock, can even kill the body our immune system is ostensibly protecting.Why does the immune system carry on in this misguided fashion? Allergists don't really know; the field is as replete with controversy as it is with solid science. But one thing is certain: allergy is caused by an immune reaction unlike any other--with the exception of the antiparasite response.
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