Allergic sinusitis, common in early childhood, is a reaction to exposure to inhalants such as dust, pollen, smoke and animal dander.
This is relevant to me because the doctor was telling me I had nonallergic sinusitis. Where this gets complicated is when they discuss allergy vs. irritant.
It’s possible that the very same substance—say, cat dander—doesn’t show up as an allergy during your allergy test…BUT…it’s possible that the same substance is an irritant that is affecting your sinus congestion.
This can seem like almost tricky semantic terrain?
I don’t think, however, that it is just semantic fine-points. More on this down below in a bit…
Allergy is essentially an abnormal reaction by the immune system of an individual to a substance (the allergen) that normally does not cause reaction in most other people. Typical allergens that cause allergic contact dermatitis can be found in plants, fragrances, cosmetics, metals (such as nickel in jewelry), detergents and clothing. If you are allergic to something and are exposed to it, your immune system overreacts and releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). The antibodies migrate to cells and cause them to release inflammatory chemicals called histamines which results in the symptoms of allergy.
So it goes like this with an allergy: substance > immune system overreacts > antibodies released > cells release histamines (cause inflammation) > allergy symptoms
Allergies and irritants follow different systems
This explains to me what the doctor meant when saying that allergies and irritants follow different systems. Allergies follow the immune system (malfunctioning) pathway leading to antibodies, histamines, etc. And, I’m presuming that an irritant doesn’t go through the immune system path.
One thing that I want to remember is that an allergy really represents our immune system malfunctioning.
Be prepared for doctor’s appointments!!
In some ways I was unprepared at this doctor’s appointment, which makes me mad at myself, but is forgivable because of what my schedule has been like.
I wish I would have asked more about sinus infection. As in: How do I know I don’t have some sort of weird sinus infection?
This stuff gets so complicated.