Answers to the questions on the Asthma and Allergies student sheet.
Your Immune System
What is the role of the immune system?
The role of the immune system is to fight off sickness.
Describe the composition of the immune system.
The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. For example, leukocytes, or white blood cells, and lymph nodes are part of the immune system.
What are some problems of the immune system?
Some problems of the immune system include: allergies, when the immune system overreacts to harmless substances; conditions like lupus or juvenile diabetes when the immune system fights good cells; HIV/Aids; and cancers of the immune system.
Learning about Allergies
What is an allergy?
An allergy is your immune system’s reaction to certain plants, animals, food, insect bites, or other things.
Describe the immune system’s role in allergies.
Our immune systems protect us from diseases by fighting germs, but when we have allergies, it overreacts and tries to “fight” ordinary things like grass/foods/pollen/etc. This causes the reactions (like sneezing, itching, runny nose, etc.) that we get with allergies.
What are some differences between a cold and allergies?
Your eyes and nose itch with allergies, but not with colds. Mucus is clear with allergies, but typically yellow/thick with a cold.
How are allergies treated?
People with allergies should try to avoid the allergens or they could take medicine or allergy shots.
Describe what happens during an asthma flare-up.
A person’s airways get swollen/narrower and it becomes a lot harder for air to get in and out of the airways. Sometimes mucus is produced, making it even more difficult to breathe. During an asthma flare-up, people may wheeze, cough, or feel tightness in the chest.
What is one difference between asthma and a cold?
Asthma isn’t contagious like a cold.
What are some causes of an asthma flare-up?
Some causes are allergens that cause allergic reactions in the airways, substances that irritate the airways, and infections.
How is asthma treated?
Asthma can be treated with controller medicines that are taken every day and rescue medicines that are taken when there is a flare-up. Medicine is often taken through an inhaler.
Do Allergies Cause Asthma?
Describe the connection between allergies and asthma.
People who have allergies that affect the nose and eyes are more likely to have asthma. When the immune system reacts to invading allergens, the body releases substances that cause allergy symptoms (runny nose/itchy eyes), and sometimes asthma symptoms. However, this is not always the case, and not everyone who has allergies has asthma.
Asthma and Allergies: The Science Inside
How common is asthma?
It is the most common, chronic childhood disease, affecting 1 out of every 20 children. It affects people of all ages, races, and genders. Although it is common, it can be controlled and treated.
How common are allergies?
Like asthma, allergies are common and affect millions of people.
What is a “trigger”? What are some common triggers?
A trigger is a factor that can bring on the symptoms of asthma or make the condition worse. Common triggers include household chemicals, tobacco smoke, dust, changes in weather, and exercise.
What is an “allergen”? What are some common allergens?
An allergen is a substance that causes allergies. Common allergens include dust mites, cockroach droppings, animal dander, grass, medications, and certain food.