Inflammation /General Allergy Cascade

Acute inflammation occurs when the immune system works to rid the body of invading pathogens (such as yeast, non-native bacteria, and viruses) or the dead cells we produce daily due to natural cell death, trauma, and irritants. Initially, certain white blood cells (WBCs) residing in tissues and our own damaged or dead cells release internal contents, which act as chemical signalers to the immune system. Some of these chemicals attract other white blood cells to the damaged site; others produce… from the blood to the surrounding tissues, resulting in  swelling. Many of these same chemicals irritate nearby nerve endings, producing pain. Inflammatory chemicals also start the healing process; for example, some of them activate blood cells/factors, producing coagulation. With prolonged, chronic inflammation, simultaneous destruction and healing occurs at the injured site, sometimes leading to chronic scarring or tissue damage.

Most people have heard of one of these chemicals: histamine. Certain white blood cells in our airway or skin tissue, called mast cells, break open after encountering an irritant (chemical, particulate, allergen, etc). Broken mast cells release histamine onto nearby tissues, such as the lining of the nose. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate and leak fluid, producing part of a “runny nose”. Taking an anti-histamine or blood vessel constrictor stops a runny nose.