Join students Sophie, Tomás, Emma, and Marcus during Fifth Period! This STEM comic strip chronicles the exciting and often hilarious adventures of a close-knit group of four friends as they learn about science, technology, engineering, and math from their kooky, inspiring, off-the-wall science teacher, Mr. Kepler. When they're not in class, these kids love to explore the vast world of STEM on their own, launching weather balloons, programming computer games, and cataloging insects, sometimes with unpredictable and highly entertaining results!
Check back on the first and third Friday of every month for a new Fifth Period strip!
It’s Not Easy Being Sneezy
Remember when Sophie got the flu? Well, the same forces are at play here, except this time, Sophie’s immune system has got it all wrong! Allergens—normally harmless particles of stuff, like tree pollen or dust—are the cause of her woes. Sometimes our immune systems get confused, and our white blood cells treat allergens like pathogens (viruses and microorganisms that actively attack the cells in our bodies). Because of this, allergy symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of an infection—as Sophie can tell you, the sneezes from her allergy are just as powerful as the sneezes from a common cold!
Think about it!
So, if your immune reacts the same way to allergens as it does to pathogens, and can give you the same symptoms (like cold symptoms), how can you tell a cold from an allergy? Consider these things:
Did you catch it from someone? Although two people can have the same allergy, you can’t spread an allergy like you can an infection!
What time of year is it? Are you sick during cold season, or is it spring, when all the trees and flowers are releasing their pollen? (Pollen is a common allergen.)
How long have you been sick? Allergies will affect you as long as the allergen is present, and that could be a very long time! As nasty as a cold infection can be, it will go away after a few days.
Want to know more? Read up on the science behind allergies to learn about the complex reactions that trigger them.