A Type of Inflammatory Response

What is “allergy”?  The short answer is: When the immune system decides to overreact to the presence of a harmless substance with an inflammatory response.

Notice that we emphasize the word “harmless”.  This is because normally, inflammatory response is only necessary when we encounter harmful substances and  pathogens.


“Allergy is an inflammatory response toward a harmless substance”

20160520 allergy
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Pollen is a common cause of allergy.  Pollen is harmless to people.  However, some people’s immune system decide to view pollen as a “threat” and react to it with an inflammatory response.

Mold is another common cause for allergy.  While mold is not good for humans, it cannot do any serious harm to us.  Therefore, they do not require us to react with an inflammatory response.  However, some people’s immune system decide to view mold as a real threat and react with an inflammatory response.  We describe them as people with an “allergy toward mold”.

Next Generation Science Standards:

HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

HS-LS1-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.

What Science Does this Comic Teach?

Unit: Anatomy

⇒Chapter: Immunology

⇒Topic: Allergy, a Type of Inflammatory Response

Additional Information


Pollen is small particles produced by plants for reproductive purposes.  The most common places where pollen is found is inside of flowers.  Because pollen is small and light, it often gets carried into the air.  Pollen is harmless to humans.

Inflammatory Response

Inflammatory response is a physical response with the most common symptoms being redness, irritation, itchiness, swelling, pain, and rise in temperature.  It is caused by our immune system when it detects a pathogen, dangerous substance, or injury.


It is a type of fungus that grows in damp, dark places.  There are different types of molds, and most of them are harmless.  However, to people who have mold allergy, even harmless molds can cause uncomfortable, allergic symptoms.

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