Home » What is an allergy? Read about allergies - the phobias of the immune system

What is an allergy? Read about allergies - the phobias of the immune system

What is an allergy really? You will learn this from this article. Our immune system is there to fight off invaders in the body. The immune system has powerful weapons in its arsenal, which is needed to kill the most malicious viruses, bacteria or parasites. During the course of evolution, before hospitals and antibiotics, a powerful immune system that saved the host from dangerous bacterial and viral infections has certainly been beneficial.

Unfortunately, the weapons of the immune system are really dangerous even for the owners of the immune system, ie ourselves. The immune cells that are designed to initiate an immune response to something in the owner's body are sorted out and wound up. It's good when it works, and it usually does.


The immune system should also be able to distinguish bacteria, viruses, parasites and other dangerous things that come into our body from food, or pollen we breathe, or cat hair or dog bark. Which is not dangerous. In immunology, we say that we must develop tolerance to things that enter the body but are not dangerous.

Is a piece of beef a parasite?

When tolerance does not develop, the immune system treats harmless molecules as if they were dangerous parasites (yes, just parasites for some reason, not viruses or bacteria) and initiates a more or less powerful immune response to something harmless. The immune response, if strong, can become really dangerous (deadly) for its owner.

Allergy - immune system phobias

In a person who has a phobia the brain perceives, a harmless spider, or syringe, or blood drop can be something completely terrifying, life-threatening. The brain's fear reaction starts and accelerates the body's escape system. In a person who has an allergy, the immune system reacts in the same way. The main difference is that the immune system has more powerful weapons in its arsenal than the brain. A panic attack due to a phobia is not fatal (although it feels so) while an allergic shock is fatal if not treated quickly with strong drugs.

What things does the immune system get phobias against?

Some things are more common than others for the immune system to get phobias of. In babies, milk, eggs and soy protein are common. In school children different pollens, different species of fur or dandruff, some nuts, eggs, fish are common. There are more. These substances are usually called "allergens".

Some substances are known to cause allergic shock more often than others, including peanuts, eggs, fish, hazelnuts and other nuts. Pollen, on the other hand, usually does not cause allergic shock, but rather a runny nose and itchy eyes. Pollen can also aggravate an existing allergic asthma.

Read more about pollen allergy in children here. 

Can you avoid allergies by avoiding things that the immune system usually gets phobias against?

No. This was believed for a long time. But it is well shown in many scientific studies that one cannot prevent allergies by avoiding so-called "allergens". It's no wonder, then, if you consider that the fault is in the ability of the immune system to distinguish between the dangerous and harmless.

Therefore, there is never a reason to avoid food or pets or going out unless you get sick from it!

However, I do not think there is reason to expose children's skin to perfumes or essential plant oils etc, because they do not add anything positive to the child's health.

Read about reducing the risk of allergy by sucking on the children's pacifiers here. 

What if my child is already allergic then?

If your child has suffered severe allergic shocks then it is obvious that you need to be careful to protect the child from more, by avoiding what the child has reacted to. Then you should also have contact with a paediatrician. They will probably suggest controlled testing on the things the child is allergic to at certain intervals. It's good, but don't do it at home if your child has severe allergic reactions. However, if the child has mild symptoms, you can always try a little sometimes if the allergy is mild or gone. Allergies are tricky, suddenly they are there and then they disappear.

Read about milk protein allergy in children here. 

12 thoughts on “Vad är allergi? Läs om allergier – immunsystemets fobier”

  1. Thanks for a great post! I totally agree with Emelie! I feel a great concern every time we go on vacation to the cottage or when guests come to visit who can ensure an allergic shock with my daughter, and get crazy from thinking about what to do if the ambulance is delayed, what to do do? I think it is valuable and vital that, as a parent of an allergic child, be able to have funds in their hands to help one's children if urgent action is needed.

  2. Thanks for posts about allergies! I have some thoughts about nut allergy ... If you react to hazelnut on a dot test, but otherwise do not seem to react so much, can you suddenly get a stronger reaction if you get hazelnut? Of course, you should avoid hazelnuts, but should you avoid everything where it says "can contain traces of nuts"? Is it natural to be allergic to other nuts as well, or is there no such link?

  3. @ Cecilia: The very thing with allergic shock that affects breathing is my fear even since I had children. Not here in the city where there is a rush of ambulances and emergency care. But out in the suburbs where we stay some and sometimes do not even have their own car certain weeks in the summer. Ambulances are few and far between, so to speak and hospitals as well. I myself would feel much safer if I knew that I had something at home that could be given just in case of breathing difficulties if the children or any guest visiting would suffer emergency. Needless to say, one should be restrictive in prescribing or taking medicines in "unnecessary". But why is it not recommended medicine that can help in just allergic shock for those with children living or staying far from large hospitals in areas with few ambulances? As a layman, it sounds like a good idea to have something to give while waiting for help to arrive. Something that could be given on the advice of SOS nurse electricity or similar. Are there major risks or other reasons why you do not think it is "worth" it if there is no known allergy in the child before?

  4. But allergic shock affecting breathing, is it not going very fast? Have heard someone talk about it being like a cap in the neck.

    Thanks again!

    1. It goes fast, but not seconds, rather half an hour from starting to swell around your mouth / get red rashes to really really bad if it goes fast. Provided that you are not in the village, the ambulance will be able to arrive and provide medicines for the allergy.

    2. Thanks for any help. Thought I would be a cool mom but not. 🙂 Is more hilarious than I could have imagined. Suddenly became scared of everything from crazy car drivers (raise driver's license to at least 25 straight away thank you) to vultures attacking small young children (in the inner city).
      Your blog really helps my crazy nerves.

  5. If my child is not allergic to e.g. eggs (or something else) now may he be the later in life?

    Then I have a wish if you could write about organic products vs "regular" non-organic products for children. I have started to read about this, for example, in the books The Evil Badankan and in the book Act right for a non-toxic childhood. It is very scary to read how much toxic and bad substances you have exposed your body to, which is why I thought to be as careful and ecological towards my child as possible, but I sometimes wonder if it is always the best way to choose organic products when it comes to health . E.g. it is time for us now to start with tooth brushing. The dental hygienist says that fluoride is needed in the toothpaste, the "ecological side" says that fluoride is toxic and good to avoid at least for the first 2 years or until the child cannot spit out the toothpaste.
    So I'm feeling a little lost, what's good, what's best? How much is harmful? Is organic completely safe?
    It would be nice to read about how you see the issue of organic and non-organic products and their impact on health, especially with regard to children.

    1. Yes, allergies can come and go during life.

      Organic products we might need to rewrite. In short, they have no health benefits shown, but they are kinder to the environment. I buy organic when I can afford it, but prioritize nutritious and fast-cooked food over organic. Even in my good economy, the interior contains as much organic as possible if the food is also to be nutritious, popular with the children and easily cooked.

      As an environmentally-engaged student, I was an expert on cheap ecomat, a lot of lentils and homemade sourdough bread. Today, my priorities are different.

      The evil bad guy seems to create a lot of mom anxiety, maybe should read that book and review what they are really saying.

  6. Hey!
    Thanks for a great post!

    Just some thoughts: What do I do if my baby gets an allergic reaction? For example, if she finds it difficult to breathe? I understand that things can go pretty fast.
    What should I wear at home? Can you get medicine 'in case' something should happen at home?
    Should I give her peanut butter or the like? Or should I give it in consultation with a doctor? Is terrified that she will have difficulty breathing or other serious reactions.

    Thanks for the help!


    1. If your baby is having difficulty breathing, you should go to the nursery. If your baby suddenly gets really hard to breathe, swells around your mouth, becomes unruly and gets red rash all over your body, it's time for an ambulance.

      Waiting to introduce peanut butter does not reduce the risk of peanut allergy; on the contrary, there are well-researched studies suggesting the opposite. In countries where peanut butter is part of the baby's diet, there is less peanut allergy than in countries where parents forbid giving children peanuts the first year of life.

    2. Medicine to have at home we give to children who have already had allergic shock. Not to those who didn't. If you are really scared, you can probably give peanut butter the first times when you are within reasonable reach for an ambulance, ie not the type in the outer archipelago or on a mountain top.

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