Is there an upside to an early allergy season?
For all the troubles it has caused, the early allergy season we have all battled through this year may have actually provided a helpful benefit to those who had the worst allergy symptoms throughout the last few months.
Yesterday, this blog told the story of New York City resident Ariana Russell, who has found a silver lining to her rare skin allergy and created a natural form of art by deliberating causing her symptoms to break out. Readers who have never had that type of condition may have trouble following Russell's line of thinking, but they be able benefit from more common allergies in a different way.
A study published in Nature journal this month suggests that all the suffering experienced by those with allergies this year – especially given the fact that allergy season started so early – may actually lead to a helpful side effect for some. In essence, the body's preemptive reaction to allergens may prevent more serious ailments from taking hold.
Unlike the immune system's so-called Type 1 response to harmful pathogens, scientists refer to the body's reaction to allergens as a Type 2 response, in which the immune systems constructs a defense that repels away these mostly harmless irritants. In many cases, the body's natural response prevents more serious irritants than pollen from having a more adverse effect on a person.
"You should feel good about it because it means your body can reduce exposure to substances that are bad for you," Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov from Yale University Medical School told MSNBC. "You can imagine if there's some toxic substance in the environment that can be carcinogenic you might be better protected."
This study does not mean that allergy sufferers should reduce their medicine regimens, but rather, it should serve to make them somewhat less resentful of allergy season.