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Seattle Times Article: Fog of pollen torments allergy sufferers on sunny days
Seattle Times consults with Immunology Assistant Professor Dr. Marion Pepper on allergic reactions.
Marion Pepper, an assistant professor in the University of Washington’s immunology department, said people have allergic reactions because their bodies’ adaptive immune systems have developed a memory that causes them to rapidly build up a defense.
That’s good when an infectious disease is trying to invade, but not when it’s a harmless allergen.
“That memory response leads to this massive activation of cells, and that leads to symptoms of allergic asthma, skin allergies or pollen allergies,” Pepper said. “We all get exposed to these allergens. It’s not really understood why some people have a higher propensity to respond than others.” Genetics and environment are believed to contribute, she said. And the misery comes en masse: “Generally, if you’re allergic to one thing … you’re actually allergic to multiple things,” Pepper said.