What are allergies?
Allergies are one of the most common diseases experienced by people. It is a chronic disease – it lasts a long time or happens very often. An allergic reaction occurs when the body overreacts to a foreign substance which it deems harmful. These substances, which cause allergic reactions, are called ‘allergens’. The body’s reaction to allergens is to produce an antibody called ‘immunoglobulin E’ (IgE). The symptoms which come about as a result of the reaction between allergens and IgE are called an allergic reaction.
Types of allergies
The human body can react to a variety of allergens, which can come most commonly in the form of food (most commonly nuts), the air (pollen and dander), insect venom allergies (bee stings). However, this list expands to include a variety of other allergens. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include asthma, rashes, hives, swollen lips, amongst others.
Who discovered allergies?
The first mention of allergies came in the writings of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. He wrote of the negative effects which certain foods have on people. Though he did not coin the term ‘allergy’, he was the first person to recognize the fundamentals of food allergies.
The word ‘allergy’ was coined by Viennese doctor Clemens von Pirquet in 1906. This came about after he noticed that some of his patients had hypersensitive reactions to certain foods and pollen – which would otherwise be seen as harmless.
Another breakthrough was the discovery Dr. the antibody ‘immunoglobulin’ in 1966-67 by Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka in Denver, Colorado and Gunnar Johansson and Hans Bennich in Uppsala, Sweden.