It’s here. Spring.
I know because I’ve spent today wheezing, blowing my nose, and feeling a general blergh.
Here’s a dramatisation of the happenings of my immune system when pollen finds its way into my airways.
Pollen flies through the air, without a worry in the world — except for searching flower lady bits to attach itself to. I inhale a breath of lovely, fresh springtime air. Said pollen travels up my nose.
Pollen: Whoa, this is not right… it got all dark all of a sudden. I think I’m lost.
Meanwhile Immunoglobulin E is hanging out on the surface of some mast cells.
IgE: Wait a minute, who are you?
Pollen: Er, I don’t think I’m supposed to be here… You look like a friendly protein, could you please tell me where the nearest exit is?
IgE: Hey, I know you… INTRUDER ALERT! Hey, mast cells, wake up!
Mast cells, snoring: Hrrr… Wha?
IgE: INTRUDER! We’ve seen this kind of particle before!
Pollen: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to intrude… Hey, why are you grabbing me?
IgE binds to the pollen and yells: Come on mast cell, release THE HISTAMINES! I’m holding the intruder!
Mast cell: Oh, right… ok, there we go.
Mast cell dies, releasing all it’s symptom-triggering chemicals. I start to experience an itch in my nose and sneeze a couple of times. The next thing I know, I’m wheezing and rummaging in the drug cabinet for an antihistamine pill. Thanks, silly overreacting immune system.
Bonus: this is a scanning electron microscope image of pollen. I blame the spiky bits for my allergy. I know, totally fair.