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为什么有些人会有季节性过敏?

Why do people have seasonal allergies? - Eleanor Nelsen


Ah, spring.
春天青草生长 百花绽放 树木萌发出新叶
Grass growing, flowers blooming, trees growing new leaves,
但如果你有过敏
but if you get allergies,
探索这片生机或许就意味着悲大于喜
this explosion of new life probably inspires more dread than joy.
走出室外 不出几分钟 你就会打喷嚏并感到呼吸困难
Step outside, and within minutes, you’re sneezing and congested.
你会流鼻涕
Your nose is running,
你的眼睛会肿胀并流泪
your eyes are swollen and watery,
你感到喉咙发痒
your throat is itchy.
对于你和与你相似的几百万人来说 这就是季节性过敏的征兆
For you and millions of others, it’s seasonal allergy time.
所以隐藏在这一系列粘液侵袭背后的是什么呢?
So what’s behind this onslaught of mucus?
答案就在你身上
The answer lies within you.
是你的免疫系统
It’s your immune system.
季节性过敏 也被称为花粉病、
Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, or allergic rhinitis,
过敏性鼻炎是免疫系统对于并没有危害的物质的过激反应
are a hypersensitive immune response to something that’s not actually harmful.
来自树上和草地上的花粉
Pollen from trees and grass,
和来自真菌的霉菌孢子都能够进入你的黏膜
and mold spores from tiny fungi find their way into your mucous membranes
而你的身体就会像对待感染性细菌一样
and your body attacks these innocuous travelers
攻击这些无辜的来访者
the same way it would infectious bacteria.
免疫系统是有记忆性的
The immune system has a memory.
当外来物质被标记为有威胁的时候
When a foreign substance gets tagged as threatening,
白细胞就会分泌出相应的抗体
white blood cells produce customized antibodies
在下一次识别出入侵者
that will recognize the offender the next time around.
它们到时就会启动身体的防御系统
They then promptly recruit the body’s defense team.
但有时候 免疫系统会不小心
But sometimes, the immune system accidentally discriminates
排斥无害物质
against harmless substances, like pollen.
例如花粉当它再次出现 白细胞表面的抗体就会
When it wafts in again, antibodies on the surface of white blood cells
立刻识别出来并将其锁定
recognize it and latch on.
这就会导致细胞分泌炎症性化学物质
This triggers the cell to release inflammatory chemicals,
例如组胺
like histamine,
它可以刺激神经细胞
which stimulate nerve cells,
使得黏膜内的血管肿胀并分泌液体
and cause blood vessels in the mucous membranes to swell and leak fluid.
换句话说 就是发痒 打喷嚏 呼吸困难
In other words, itchiness, sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose.
流鼻涕过敏通常第一次出现在童年时期 但不是所有人都是如此
Allergies usually, but not always, show up for the first time during childhood.
但为什么一些人会过敏而另一些人没有?
But why do some people get allergies and others don’t?
过敏倾向于在家族中出现 所以基因是罪魁祸首之一事实上
Allergies tend to run in families, so genetics may be one culprit.
调控免疫系统的基因发生错误
In fact, errors in a gene that helps regulate the immune system
与高过敏率息息相关
are associated with higher rates of allergies.
你成长的环境也是有关联的
The environment you grow up in matters, too.
在婴儿时期接触到过敏原
Being exposed to an allergen as a baby
使得你更小几率对其产生过敏
makes you less likely to actually develop an allergy to it.
那些成长在农场里
People who grow up on farms,
尤其是在大家族
in big families,
和发展中国家的人过敏的更少
and in the developing world also tend to have fewer allergies,
虽然一部分是由于基因引起的 但还是会有很多的例外
although there are plenty of exceptions, partly thanks to genetics.
一个理论是作为儿童
One theory is that as children,
他们会接触到更多从传统狩猎采集社会
they encounter more of the microbes and parasites
就开始演化的微生物以及寄生虫
that co-evolved with traditional hunter-gatherer societies.
这被称为卫生假说
Called the hygiene hypothesis,
这个观点是当免疫系统
the idea is that when the immune system
不能接触到一些常见的微生物时
isn’t exposed to the familiar cast of microbes,
它们就会一直增加对于无害物质的防御措施
it’ll keep itself busy mounting defenses against harmless substances,
比如花粉
like pollen.
另一个理论是如果免疫系统经受过大量病菌的洗礼
Another theory is that an immune system toughened up by a barrage of pathogens
就不会对过敏原产生过激反应
is less likely to overreact to allergens.
花粉是常见的入侵者 是因为我们经常能够遇到
Pollen is a common offender, just because we encounter so much of it,
但还有很多其他类似的物质
but there’s a long list of substances:
如灰尘
dust,
动物皮屑
animal dander,
昆虫毒液
insect venom,
药物
medications,
特定食物
certain foods,
它们会使得你的免疫系统过度工作
that can send your immune system into overdrive.
其中的一些反应可以是很可怕的
Some of these reactions can be scary.
某些过敏能够发展为完全性过敏
An allergy can develop into full-blown anaphylaxis,
从而导致严重的肿胀
which typically brings on severe swelling,
呼吸急促
shortness of breath,
以及低血压
and very low blood pressure.
这可能致命
It can be deadly.
人体甚至可能对自身产生过敏
The body can even have an allergic reaction to itself
造成自身免疫性疾病
causing auto-immune disorders,
像各种硬化症 狼疮
like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes.
I型糖尿病但即使是不致命的过敏症也能让你苦不堪言
But even non-life threatening allergy symptoms can make you miserable,
所以我们能对它们做些什么呢?
so what can you do about it?
药物能够帮助减轻症状
Medications can help reduce the symptoms.
最常见的能够防止组胺与细胞结合
The most common ones keep histamines from binding to your cells.
这些抗组胺剂能够防止炎症反应
These antihistamines stop the inflammation response.
类固醇能够帮助平稳免疫系统
Steroids can help dial down the immune system.
另外更长久的做法是免疫疗法
Another more permanent option is immunotherapy.
在科学控制下 特定地暴露于
Deliberate, controlled exposure
数量逐渐增加的过敏原
to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen
可以让免疫系统知道这些物质并不危险
can teach the immune system that it isn’t dangerous after all.
如果你敢于冒险 还有一种不太传统的做法
And if you’re really adventurous, there’s a less traditional option:
肠道寄生虫
intestinal parasites.
当十二指肠虫将牙齿嵌到肠壁
When hookworms sink their teeth into the intestinal wall,
它们会分泌化学物质使得免疫系统迟钝
they secrete chemicals that blunt the immune system.
一些研究认为十二指肠虫能够治疗过敏
Some studies suggest that hookworms can treat allergies,
这也解释了为什么
which may be another reason
过敏在工业化的国家更常见
allergies are more common in industrialized countries
那儿的十二指肠虫相对较少当然
where hookworms are few and far between.
你也可以等着季节性过敏过去
Of course, you can always just wait your seasonal allergies out.
春季花粉侵袭在仲夏就会减少
The spring pollen onslaught dwindles by mid-summer,
正好赶上豚草的季节
just in time for ragweed season.

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