Many of us suffer from allergies, be it to pet dander, pollen, or certain foods. But why does this happen? What’s happening inside our bodies that makes us respond so severely to these seemingly harmless substances?
Allergies occur when the immune system becomes overactive. Overactive immune systems mistake harmless substances like pollen and interpret them as invasive and harmful. The immune system then generates a response to this substance (which is called an allergen). This response is called an allergic reaction.
You might be wondering, how exactly an overactive immune system is different from a regular one, and what causes an overactive immune system? In order to answer these questions, let's first discuss how a normal immune system functions.
How Does the Immune System Work?
The immune system’s job is to protect you from pathogens, harmful substances such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The immune system battles these invading substances with a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. There are two types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells. These cells are able to detect pathogens by tracking down a molecular structure located on their surface, called an antigen. After the immune system detects the antigen, it is able to hunt down and destroy the invading substance, protecting you from getting sick.
Cells in your own tissue also contain antigens. However, a properly functioning immune system can differentiate between antigens on harmless cells and antigens on invasive ones. So what does a dysfunctional immune system look like?
What Happens in an Overactive Immune System?
A dysfunctional immune system is unable to make the distinction between invasive and non-invasive cells. This causes the immune system to generate an immune response and to start producing a defense: a protein called an antibody to fight off the “infection.” Unfortunately, this attack can be launched not only on pathogens, but also on the body’s own tissue. This type of response is called an autoimmune reaction. It causes inflammation and tissue damage.
In some cases, these effects may be due to an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are complex; symptoms vary depending on the specific disorder that develops and the part of the body that is affected. We won’t get into too much detail today, but if you want to learn more about autoimmune disease, check out our blog on the topic.
Keep in mind that although autoimmune reactions are often indicative of an autoimmune disease, they can also occur independently of the long-term condition.
What Causes an Overactive Immune System?
Ultimately, it is not currently known what triggers autoimmune diseases. The medical community has speculated on a number of possible causes, including certain medications or specific kinds of bacteria and viruses. Some believe that autoimmune diseases have a genetic component.
Unfortunately, we still don’t have enough information to identify exactly what causes overactive immune systems. The good news is, there are plenty of preventative steps you can take to protect your immune system from autoimmune diseases, which we’ll discuss later.
What Causes an Autoimmune Reaction?
There are several triggers for autoimmune reactions, including the following. :
Altered Organic Substances
Again, the immune system’s job is to target substances that could be harmful, so if normal something inside your body is altered, for example, by a virus, medication, or even by the sun, your immune system may consider it a foreign invader. For example, after you recover from a virus, it can leave lasting modifications in some of your cells, which in turn can trigger an immune response. Normal Substances That Resemble Foreign Ones
There are certain types of pathogens that resemble your body’s own tissue. Unfortunately, the immune system can inadvertently target its own cells while attempting to get rid of these invasive substances. For example, the bacteria that causes strep throat has a similar antigen to the one on your heart cells. Due to this similarity, the immune system can accidentally target the body’s heart while fighting the strep. Fortunately, this reaction,called rheumatic fever, is quite rare.
Cells that produce antibodies like B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), can sometimes malfunction and produce defective antibodies that attack the body’s own cells..
A New Substance Released Into Circulation
When a substance that’s normally located in a part of the body that’s not in contact with the immune system ) is released into circulation, the immune system can interpret this substance as foreign and launch an immune attack. Trauma to the eye, for instance, can release eyeball fluid into circulation. This fluid can then be mistaken for a pathogen and attacked by your immune system.
What Are the Symptoms of an Overactive Immune System?
Symptoms of an overactive immune system vary depending on the severity of the condition and the part of the body affected. The most common symptoms are fatigue, fever, joint pain, and rashes. If the immune system is severely overactive, it can affect some of your tissues such as your blood vessels, cartilage, or skin.
The most severe cases of autoimmune disease impact a particular organ. Almost any organ can be affected, including the kidneys, lungs, heart, or even the brain. If left untreated, the inflammation and resulting tissue damage can cause severe health consequences such as oint deformity, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases, even death.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Autoimmune Disease?
As we’ve already discussed, the exact cause of autoimmune diseases is unknown. However, by taking care of your general health, you can strengthen your immune system and decrease your chances of developing an autoimmune disease.
You can stay healthy by adopting healthy habits like exercising, eating nutritiously, and developing a good sleep schedule. You can also take a clinically proven, all-natural supplement to boost your immune system.
How to Normalize an Overactive Immune System
If you’re already showing symptoms of an overactive immune system, don’t worry. There are still plenty of things you can do to ease your symptoms.
In some cases, you can rid yourself of symptoms entirely.. However, oftentimes, symptoms of an overactive immune system are chronic once they first develop, meaning that they can persist for life.
When learning how to normalize an overactive immune system, know that there are many medications designed to handle these symptoms. However, these are often case-by-case, so we recommend talking to your doctor before you start taking any. Depending on how severe their overactive immune system is, some people have had good results from changing their diet by-eliminating all foods that could cause further inflammation and aggravate the immune system. Of course, if the allergen your body is responding to is a food, you should refrain from consuming it.
The gut is responsible for 75% of the immune system, so taking care of it can alleviate the symptoms of an overactive immune system. For more information, check out our blog on the topic m (link here).
Prevention Steps You Can Start Doing Now
The right foods, exercise routine, and supplements can both decrease your likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease and relieve your symptoms if you have one.. Many studies have shown that patients have good results from adopting a healthier lifestyle. . Read our different blogs on how to boost your immune system for more on this topic.
Any extreme lifestyle change is difficult. It will take a lot of time and discipline. But remember, if you put in the effort, you will see results, and your health is worth it!
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