full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Eleanor Nelsen: Why do people have seasonal allergies?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Ah, spring. Grass giwonrg, flowers blonimog, trees growing new leaves, but if you get allergies, this epolisoxn of new life probably inspires more deard than joy. Step outside, and within minutes, you're sineezng and congested. Your nose is rinunng, your eyes are swollen and watery, your torhat is itchy. For you and millions of others, it's saosenal allergy time. So what's behind this onslaught of mucus? The answer lies within you. It's your immune stseym. Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, are a hypersensitive immune response to something that's not actually hfrumal. Pollen from trees and grass, and mold spores from tiny fungi find their way into your mucous menambres and your body attacks these innocuous travelers the same way it would infectious bacteria. The inmume system has a memory. When a foreign substance gets tagged as threatening, white blood cells produce customized antibodies that will recognize the offender the next time around. They then promptly recruit the body's defnsee team. But sometimes, the immune system acetdlcalniy discriminates against hlsaemrs substances, like pellon. When it wafts in again, antibodies on the surface of white blood cells recognize it and latch on. This triggers the cell to release inflammatory chemicals, like haitmsnie, which stimulate nerve cells, and cause blood vessels in the mucuos membranes to swell and leak fluid. In other words, itchiness, sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. Allergies usually, but not always, show up for the first time during childhood. But why do some people get allergies and others don't? aerelglis tend to run in families, so geintces may be one culprit. In fact, errors in a gene that helps regulate the immune system are associated with higher rates of allergies. The environment you grow up in matters, too. Being exeopsd to an allergen as a baby makes you less likely to actually develop an allergy to it. People who grow up on farms, in big families, and in the developing wlord also tend to have fewer allergies, although there are plenty of exceptions, partly thanks to genetics. One thorey is that as children, they encounter more of the microbes and parasites that co-evolved with traditional hunter-gatherer siceeitos. Called the hygiene hpeoyishts, the idea is that when the immune system isn't exposed to the familiar cast of microbes, it'll keep itself busy mounting desenfes against harmless substances, like pollen. Another theory is that an immune system toughened up by a bragrae of pathogens is less likely to overreact to allergens. Pollen is a common offender, just because we euneotncr so much of it, but there's a long list of substances: dust, animal dander, insect venom, miacdtineos, certain foods, that can send your immune system into overdrive. Some of these reactions can be scary. An allergy can develop into full-blown anaphylaxis, which typically brings on severe swelling, shortness of breath, and very low blood pressure. It can be deadly. The body can even have an allergic reaction to itself causing auto-immune disorders, like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. But even non-life threatening allergy symptoms can make you miserable, so what can you do about it? Medications can help reduce the symptoms. The most common ones keep histamines from binding to your cells. These antihistamines stop the ifmtlaaiomnn rnsepose. Steroids can help dial down the immune system. Another more permanent option is immunotherapy. Deliberate, controlled exposure to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen can tecah the immune system that it isn't dangerous after all. And if you're really aeouvtrnuds, there's a less traditional option: intestinal piasertas. When hoowomkrs sink their teteh into the intestinal wall, they secrete chemicals that blunt the immune system. Some studies suggest that hookworms can treat allergies, which may be another reason allergies are more common in industrialized countries where hookworms are few and far between. Of course, you can always just wait your seasonal allergies out. The spring pollen onslaught dlwidens by mid-summer, just in time for rwageed ssaeon.

Open Cloze

Ah, spring. Grass _______, flowers ________, trees growing new leaves, but if you get allergies, this _________ of new life probably inspires more _____ than joy. Step outside, and within minutes, you're ________ and congested. Your nose is _______, your eyes are swollen and watery, your ______ is itchy. For you and millions of others, it's ________ allergy time. So what's behind this onslaught of mucus? The answer lies within you. It's your immune ______. Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, are a hypersensitive immune response to something that's not actually _______. Pollen from trees and grass, and mold spores from tiny fungi find their way into your mucous _________ and your body attacks these innocuous travelers the same way it would infectious bacteria. The ______ system has a memory. When a foreign substance gets tagged as threatening, white blood cells produce customized antibodies that will recognize the offender the next time around. They then promptly recruit the body's _______ team. But sometimes, the immune system ____________ discriminates against ________ substances, like ______. When it wafts in again, antibodies on the surface of white blood cells recognize it and latch on. This triggers the cell to release inflammatory chemicals, like _________, which stimulate nerve cells, and cause blood vessels in the ______ membranes to swell and leak fluid. In other words, itchiness, sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. Allergies usually, but not always, show up for the first time during childhood. But why do some people get allergies and others don't? _________ tend to run in families, so ________ may be one culprit. In fact, errors in a gene that helps regulate the immune system are associated with higher rates of allergies. The environment you grow up in matters, too. Being _______ to an allergen as a baby makes you less likely to actually develop an allergy to it. People who grow up on farms, in big families, and in the developing _____ also tend to have fewer allergies, although there are plenty of exceptions, partly thanks to genetics. One ______ is that as children, they encounter more of the microbes and parasites that co-evolved with traditional hunter-gatherer _________. Called the hygiene __________, the idea is that when the immune system isn't exposed to the familiar cast of microbes, it'll keep itself busy mounting ________ against harmless substances, like pollen. Another theory is that an immune system toughened up by a _______ of pathogens is less likely to overreact to allergens. Pollen is a common offender, just because we _________ so much of it, but there's a long list of substances: dust, animal dander, insect venom, ___________, certain foods, that can send your immune system into overdrive. Some of these reactions can be scary. An allergy can develop into full-blown anaphylaxis, which typically brings on severe swelling, shortness of breath, and very low blood pressure. It can be deadly. The body can even have an allergic reaction to itself causing auto-immune disorders, like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. But even non-life threatening allergy symptoms can make you miserable, so what can you do about it? Medications can help reduce the symptoms. The most common ones keep histamines from binding to your cells. These antihistamines stop the ____________ ________. Steroids can help dial down the immune system. Another more permanent option is immunotherapy. Deliberate, controlled exposure to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen can _____ the immune system that it isn't dangerous after all. And if you're really ___________, there's a less traditional option: intestinal _________. When _________ sink their _____ into the intestinal wall, they secrete chemicals that blunt the immune system. Some studies suggest that hookworms can treat allergies, which may be another reason allergies are more common in industrialized countries where hookworms are few and far between. Of course, you can always just wait your seasonal allergies out. The spring pollen onslaught ________ by mid-summer, just in time for _______ ______.

Solution

  1. explosion
  2. allergies
  3. teach
  4. blooming
  5. defense
  6. genetics
  7. defenses
  8. dread
  9. seasonal
  10. accidentally
  11. system
  12. societies
  13. hookworms
  14. throat
  15. teeth
  16. mucous
  17. medications
  18. exposed
  19. response
  20. barrage
  21. dwindles
  22. histamine
  23. pollen
  24. parasites
  25. membranes
  26. season
  27. harmless
  28. growing
  29. world
  30. encounter
  31. hypothesis
  32. running
  33. ragweed
  34. harmful
  35. sneezing
  36. inflammation
  37. theory
  38. adventurous
  39. immune

Original Text

Ah, spring. Grass growing, flowers blooming, trees growing new leaves, but if you get allergies, this explosion of new life probably inspires more dread than joy. Step outside, and within minutes, you're sneezing and congested. Your nose is running, your eyes are swollen and watery, your throat is itchy. For you and millions of others, it's seasonal allergy time. So what's behind this onslaught of mucus? The answer lies within you. It's your immune system. Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, are a hypersensitive immune response to something that's not actually harmful. Pollen from trees and grass, and mold spores from tiny fungi find their way into your mucous membranes and your body attacks these innocuous travelers the same way it would infectious bacteria. The immune system has a memory. When a foreign substance gets tagged as threatening, white blood cells produce customized antibodies that will recognize the offender the next time around. They then promptly recruit the body's defense team. But sometimes, the immune system accidentally discriminates against harmless substances, like pollen. When it wafts in again, antibodies on the surface of white blood cells recognize it and latch on. This triggers the cell to release inflammatory chemicals, like histamine, which stimulate nerve cells, and cause blood vessels in the mucous membranes to swell and leak fluid. In other words, itchiness, sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. Allergies usually, but not always, show up for the first time during childhood. But why do some people get allergies and others don't? Allergies tend to run in families, so genetics may be one culprit. In fact, errors in a gene that helps regulate the immune system are associated with higher rates of allergies. The environment you grow up in matters, too. Being exposed to an allergen as a baby makes you less likely to actually develop an allergy to it. People who grow up on farms, in big families, and in the developing world also tend to have fewer allergies, although there are plenty of exceptions, partly thanks to genetics. One theory is that as children, they encounter more of the microbes and parasites that co-evolved with traditional hunter-gatherer societies. Called the hygiene hypothesis, the idea is that when the immune system isn't exposed to the familiar cast of microbes, it'll keep itself busy mounting defenses against harmless substances, like pollen. Another theory is that an immune system toughened up by a barrage of pathogens is less likely to overreact to allergens. Pollen is a common offender, just because we encounter so much of it, but there's a long list of substances: dust, animal dander, insect venom, medications, certain foods, that can send your immune system into overdrive. Some of these reactions can be scary. An allergy can develop into full-blown anaphylaxis, which typically brings on severe swelling, shortness of breath, and very low blood pressure. It can be deadly. The body can even have an allergic reaction to itself causing auto-immune disorders, like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. But even non-life threatening allergy symptoms can make you miserable, so what can you do about it? Medications can help reduce the symptoms. The most common ones keep histamines from binding to your cells. These antihistamines stop the inflammation response. Steroids can help dial down the immune system. Another more permanent option is immunotherapy. Deliberate, controlled exposure to gradually increasing amounts of an allergen can teach the immune system that it isn't dangerous after all. And if you're really adventurous, there's a less traditional option: intestinal parasites. When hookworms sink their teeth into the intestinal wall, they secrete chemicals that blunt the immune system. Some studies suggest that hookworms can treat allergies, which may be another reason allergies are more common in industrialized countries where hookworms are few and far between. Of course, you can always just wait your seasonal allergies out. The spring pollen onslaught dwindles by mid-summer, just in time for ragweed season.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
immune system 10
mucous membranes 2
white blood 2
blood cells 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
white blood cells 2

Important Words

  1. accidentally
  2. adventurous
  3. ah
  4. allergen
  5. allergens
  6. allergic
  7. allergies
  8. allergy
  9. amounts
  10. anaphylaxis
  11. animal
  12. answer
  13. antibodies
  14. antihistamines
  15. attacks
  16. baby
  17. bacteria
  18. barrage
  19. big
  20. binding
  21. blood
  22. blooming
  23. blunt
  24. body
  25. breath
  26. brings
  27. busy
  28. called
  29. cast
  30. causing
  31. cell
  32. cells
  33. chemicals
  34. childhood
  35. children
  36. common
  37. congested
  38. congestion
  39. controlled
  40. countries
  41. culprit
  42. customized
  43. dander
  44. dangerous
  45. deadly
  46. defense
  47. defenses
  48. deliberate
  49. develop
  50. developing
  51. diabetes
  52. dial
  53. discriminates
  54. disorders
  55. dread
  56. dust
  57. dwindles
  58. encounter
  59. environment
  60. errors
  61. exceptions
  62. explosion
  63. exposed
  64. exposure
  65. eyes
  66. fact
  67. familiar
  68. families
  69. farms
  70. fever
  71. find
  72. flowers
  73. fluid
  74. foods
  75. foreign
  76. fungi
  77. gene
  78. genetics
  79. gradually
  80. grass
  81. grow
  82. growing
  83. harmful
  84. harmless
  85. hay
  86. helps
  87. higher
  88. histamine
  89. histamines
  90. hookworms
  91. hygiene
  92. hypersensitive
  93. hypothesis
  94. idea
  95. immune
  96. immunotherapy
  97. increasing
  98. industrialized
  99. infectious
  100. inflammation
  101. inflammatory
  102. innocuous
  103. insect
  104. inspires
  105. intestinal
  106. itchiness
  107. itchy
  108. joy
  109. latch
  110. leak
  111. leaves
  112. lies
  113. life
  114. list
  115. long
  116. lupus
  117. matters
  118. medications
  119. membranes
  120. memory
  121. microbes
  122. millions
  123. minutes
  124. miserable
  125. mold
  126. mounting
  127. mucous
  128. mucus
  129. multiple
  130. nerve
  131. nose
  132. offender
  133. onslaught
  134. option
  135. overdrive
  136. overreact
  137. parasites
  138. partly
  139. pathogens
  140. people
  141. permanent
  142. plenty
  143. pollen
  144. pressure
  145. produce
  146. promptly
  147. ragweed
  148. rates
  149. reaction
  150. reactions
  151. reason
  152. recognize
  153. recruit
  154. reduce
  155. regulate
  156. release
  157. response
  158. rhinitis
  159. run
  160. running
  161. runny
  162. scary
  163. sclerosis
  164. season
  165. seasonal
  166. secrete
  167. send
  168. severe
  169. shortness
  170. show
  171. sink
  172. sneezing
  173. societies
  174. spores
  175. spring
  176. step
  177. steroids
  178. stimulate
  179. stop
  180. studies
  181. substance
  182. substances
  183. suggest
  184. surface
  185. swell
  186. swelling
  187. swollen
  188. symptoms
  189. system
  190. tagged
  191. teach
  192. team
  193. teeth
  194. tend
  195. theory
  196. threatening
  197. throat
  198. time
  199. tiny
  200. toughened
  201. traditional
  202. travelers
  203. treat
  204. trees
  205. triggers
  206. type
  207. typically
  208. venom
  209. vessels
  210. wafts
  211. wait
  212. wall
  213. watery
  214. white
  215. words
  216. world