I never had allergies until I moved to Oklahoma. Evidently, when the wind comes sweeping down the plain at +45 mph, its carrying billions and billions of grains of cedar pollen. So even though I grew up in a damn forest, Im now allergic to ‘trees’.
*bonus* Arnie is allergic to trees AND grass.
Allergic to trees and GRASS.
Well, the past couple springs I just suck it up, take two benadryl every night (give two to Arnie) and just deal with it. But this spring I got a new bit of allergy fun– Itchy eyes. Im not talking ‘aw balls something is in my eyes’ itching, I mean ‘OMFG DO I HAVE EYE CHICKEN POX SOMEONE KILL ME’ itching.
Id reached my breaking point last Friday (I realized if I gouged out my eyes, they wouldnt itch anymore!), but luckily I work in a micro/immuno department, and I got some good advice: Ketotifen Fumarate.
The trouble starts with a specialized immune cell called a mast cell. Mast cells dont make antibodies, but they have receptors on their cell membranes that stick to the stalk part of IgE antibodies, leaving the ‘business end’ of IgE sticking out from the mast cell like spikes on a sea urchin.
When an allergen gets into your system, it sticks to the ‘business ends’ of IgG on the mast cells, ‘crosslinking’ lots of IgEs together (tethering them together in close proximity). This tethering sends a message to the mast cell: “POOP OUT YOUR HISTAMINES AND JUNK!!” and *SQUISH!*, the mast cell dumps a shitload of histamines (and other stuff) into your nose/respiratory tract (hay fever) or digestive system (food allergies).
Well in my case, mast cells were pooping histamines in my eyes. Considering that there are oh, about 50 million mast cells in your eyes… there is potentially a LOT of histamine pooping going on when there is cedar pollen around.
Now histmines themselves dont cause any trouble– theyre just the messenger. Its the target cells that cause trouble in response to the histamines. So one way ketotifen fumarate works is by competing with histamine for one of their target receptors, H1. H1 is the one that makes teh itchey. Cant deliver teh itchey message, no teh itchey.
But wait! Theres more!
Ketotifen fumarate also calms down mast cells, preventing them from pooping their guts out in the first place!
Which is great cause histamines arent the only thing in mast cell poopage. There are also other chemical messengers that tell the immune system that shit is going down. In response to these messengers, other immune cells, like eosinophils, cruse into the eye all like ‘Whats all this, then?’ and start pooping their chemicals out. Eosinophils poop contains toxic shit that is normally used to kill bacteria and parasites… and its toxic to your tissues too.
So ketoifen not only keeps the ‘AHHHH!’ message quiet by shushing up mast cells, but it ALSO tells eosinophils ‘Move along. Nothing to see here.’ preventing totally unnecessary tissue injury.
In summary, my eyes feel AWESOME now, because the ketoifen fumarate in the eye-drops Im using is blocking the histamine H1 receptor, inhibiting mast cell degranulation, and telling eosinophils to piss off.
Awesome, you guys. Awesome. Get this stuff if you have eye allergies– Its OTC. You dont have to gouge out your eyeballs.