In an allergic person their immune system responds to normally harmless substances like they are harmful. When it comes to pets the over aggressive immune system responds to the dander, saliva, urine or skin secretions as if they are dangerous to the body of the sufferer. Along with pollen, mold spores, and the excrement of cockroaches and dust mites, pet allergens are airborne and enter the allergic persons body through the nose, throat and lungs. Skin rashes caused by pet saliva and contact dermatitis caused by pet dander is some examples of non-airborne allergic reactions. In order for the allergens to be inhaled by the body they must be minute and the typical size of an airborne allergen is about a millionth of a meter. Inhaling these tiny allergens can have a traumatic affect on your entire respiratory system.
Exposure to an allergen is the first phase in an allergic reaction. If you were one of the millions of people worldwide that are subject to cat allergies then your allergic symptomatic reaction would occur something like this. The initial sensitization (which then makes you a person allergic to felines) happens when some of the allergy causing cat protein enters your body. Your immune system perceives these proteins as a threat and so causes the IgE antibodies to connect to the mast cells and basophils in huge quantities, but you will most likely not experience any allergic symptoms during this initial phase of the allergic reaction process.
Typically and allergen will not cause a symptomatic reaction the first time you come into contact with it. What is happening however is that the allergic persons immune system is preparing to fight off any future incursions by this substance which has now been designated as harmful and is therefore considered a threat.
The amount of exposure to any given allergen that is necessary to cause this sensitization varies from person to person depending on their tolerance level. It could occur during the first exposure to the allergen or it could occur after many years of being exposed to the offending substance. Once your body is sensitized it is only a matter of time before you come into contact with the particular allergen again, which in the case of a person allergic to felines would be the airborne cat protein found in their saliva, urine, dander and other body secretions, which upon entering your body will then begin the biochemical reaction in your body resulting in the symptoms that come with a allergic attack.
When the cat protein comes into contact with the IgE antibodies that have been programmed to recognize and defend the body against it, the result is that the mast and basophils cells begin releasing a mass of destructive chemicals (one of them being histamine) into the surrounding tissues and bloodstream which brings on either local or systemic inflammation.
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