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15936060 tn?1512763899

PATM, why this is the wrong term to describe our community

TERM CONVENTION – LACK OF FIT

The term PATM originated back in 2007 when the first user on Medhelp claimed that people were allergic to their presence. When this post was put up, the person never knew that their basic, but yet seemingly accurate description would be utilized as a term to define this illness for years to come. The problem with this term is that doctors have a different understanding of what an allergy is, and when the PATM community refer to an allergy they fail to accurately describe the effects of this illness on other people. This, in turn, is counterproductive and leaves doctors questioning if we even know what an allergy actually is. For us to gain medical recognition we need to reconcile our terms with the medical professionals. How Stuff Works defines an allergy as:

"A properly functioning immune system is a well-trained and disciplined biological warfare unit for the body. It is able to identify and destroy many foreign invaders. The immune system can also identify cells that are infected internally with viruses, as well as many cells that are on their way to becoming tumors. It does all of this work so the body remains healthy.

As amazing as the immune system is, it sometimes makes mistakes. Allergies are the result of a hypersensitive immune system. The allergic immune system misidentifies an otherwise innocuous substance as harmful, and then attacks the substance with a ferocity far greater than required."

Over time our understanding of an allergy has skewed as we use this term to describe how people react to us. When people react, their immune system is properly identifying this undefined bacteria/substance as harmful, and in response, they sneeze and cough desperately trying to expel this hazardous substance from their body. An allergy is a reaction that occurs because the immune system misidentifies the substance as harmful when it actually is harmless.

This discrepancy between our understanding of an allergy and the medical professionals is drastically different, and can mislead medical professionals to underestimate the risks that this illness puts others in. I would recommend changing the term to people react to me (PRTM). This is vague but leaves more room for interpretation by the medical professionals. A term is something that sums up the entirety of this illness, and it is crucial to point the medical community in the right direction at the start.
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