An allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts sensitively to a foreign substance which may be pollen or bee venom or any other thing. Our immune system produces antibodies to fight against unwanted substances that are harmful for us. During an allergy, the body produces antibodies to fight off against substances that do not cause harm. This immune system reaction can trigger conditions such as inflammation of skin, nasal passages or the digestive system. This can be termed as an allergic reaction.
If the allergic reaction becomes severe enough to induce life threatening symptoms then it is referred to as an Anaphylaxis. During this condition a person experiences severe allergic reactions and if not treated in time, it may even result in death.
A study has shown that women commonly, experience more severe allergic reactions than men owing to their estrogen hormones.
Studies pertaining to anaphylaxis are difficult to perform because of its life threatening nature. About 200 people die from anaphylaxis every year in the United States, but these numbers could be bigger, because many people die from unrecognized anaphylaxis. A person may be suffering from heart disease and may die because of a heart attack, but it’s also possible that the attack may well have been induced by a severe allergic reaction.
Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases NIAID have found that female mice are more prone to more severe anaphylactic reactions as compared to their male counterparts. They discovered that estradiol, which is an estrogen, enhances the activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), which produces some of the common symptoms that are attributed to anaphylaxis.
Only when plain eNOS is introduced into the system of the person undergoing anaphylaxis will result in the drop of blood pressure of the person, enabling the fluid in the blood vessels to leak into the surrounding tissue, which would in turn cause swelling. Adding estradiol would further cause the symptoms to become more pronounced than ever.
Researchers in a bid to understand that whether estradiol was the real culprit blocked the estrogen in female mice. And the results showed that female mice experienced similar levels of allergic reactions as their male counterparts, thereby further strengthening the research.
So overall, the research concluded that gender factor does play an important role in allergies.
“More women are admitted to hospitals for anaphylaxis as compared to men which indicates that something is going on here. Too often these gender differences are not focused on. We need to be better at associating diseases with gender,” said Dean Metcalfe, M.D., NIAID Laboratory of Allergic Diseases chief and a co-author for the study.