Happy First Day of Spring, Tumblr!
What better way to celebrate than to **ACHOO!!**….wait, what were we saying?
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.
But as we who suffer from seasonal allergies know, 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.
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!
From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do people have seasonal allergies? - Eleanor Nelsen
Animation by TED-Ed
Yes it is here!
Mar 21, 2018 15:45
Stepping Into the Future: How Assistive Technology is Transforming Teaching Students with Disabilities
When considering technology, the first thing that comes to mind might not be the assistive tools used in classrooms, but these innovative instruments are revolutionizing the way teachers conduct their classroom business, especially Special Education classrooms. With a variety of different apps, organizers, and special technologies, students with disabilities and their families can rest assured that teachers have a large group of resources at their disposal.
Consider the Academy of Whole Learning, a K-12, private Minnesota school for students with learning disabilities including Autism. The academy introduced virtual reality technology to their classrooms, which is just one example of the many assistive technologies teachers can implement in their teaching. According to Kade Dreschler, a teacher at the Academy of Whole Learning, the immersive VR experience was a wonderful experience for the students. Using the VR technology, the students were able to block out classroom distractions and focus on the environment on the screen in front of them, leading to improvements in their social and friendship experiences. These technologies, too, are helpful for students with a range of disabilities, including those who are blind or visually compared, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those with other learning, cognitive, or developmental disabilities.
The types of assistive technology used by teachers is incredibly varied, especially depending on their students’ disabilities. For students who are visually compared, have dyslexia, or are blind, teachers can use text-to-speech technology to allow these students to listen to things on a printed page. It works by scanning words on a page and reading them allowed in a robotic voice, allowing students who cannot easily read to still enjoy the text!
Perhaps a lesser-known type of assistive technology is called the sip-and-puff system and works to assist students and people with paralysis or other motor skill difficulties. Using this system, students can use a joystick in order to control their technological applications, moving the cursor with their heads and clicking with a sip or puff. While this system is new and still needs some refinement, it has already become a pivotal part of special education classrooms.
Clearly, assistive technologies for students with disabilities are quickly becoming a necessity. With the emergence of these technologies, and the tireless plight of teachers to teach their students to the best of their ability, it’s safe to say that students with disabilities are in good educational hands.
This blog was originally published on Russ Ewell’s website.
Jun 09, 2020 20:57
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