Importance of Allergy Testing
What is an allergy?
Allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless for most people.
What happens when you have an allergic reaction?
When a person who is allergic to a particular allergen comes into contact with it, an allergic reaction occurs. This begins when the allergen (for example, dust mite) enters the body, triggering an antibody response. The antibodies attach themselves to special cells, called mast cells. When the dust comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells respond by releasing certain substances, one of which is called histamine. When the release of histamine is due to an allergen, it can result it in swelling and inflammation and multiple reactions can take place depending upon the allergen.
Allergic reactions are determined on the exposure duration of the allergen, stress factor, nutrition level and genetic make-up of the individual.
What are the common reactions of the body to an allergen?
- Frequent Headaches
- Postnasal Drainage
- Itching of the Nose
- Recurrent Cough or Bronchitis
- Itching, Watering, Redness or Swelling of the Eyes
- Tightness in the Chest, Wheezing or Asthma
- Eczema, Skin Rashes, Itching, or Hives
- Nausea, Vomiting and Stomach Pain
What are some uncommon allergic reactions?
- Behavioural issues like attention deficit disorder seen in children.
- Water retention
- Gastric complaints
- Chronic obesity
- Joint pain
- Angioedema: Angioedema is an area of swelling of the lower layer of skin and tissue just under the skin or mucous membranes. The swelling may occur in the face, tongue, larynx, abdomen, or arms and legs. Often it is associated with hives, which are swelling within the upper skin.
What are the different types of allergy?
- Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: e.g. allergic to wheat products, nuts, dairy products and seafood are some of the common food items that can cause food allergy. This could arise to rashes, nausea vomiting and digestive issues.
- Seasonal Allergies: Spring is the time of year that we normally think of when it comes to seasonal allergies. In this season pollen gets airborne; allergy sufferers begin their course of allergy with of sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes.
- Dog and Cat Allergy: For a person with pet allergies watch out for dander which gets everywhere from fur coat of animals, symptoms associated with this include hay fever, rashes and even triggering asthma like symptoms.
- Hay Fever: Hay fever is an immune disorder characterized by an allergic response to pollen grains and other substances. Also known as allergic rhinitis, there are two types: seasonal, which occurs only during the time of year in which certain plants pollinate, and perennial, which occurs all year round.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): Pink eye caused by bacteria, viruses, or STDs can spread easily from person to person but is not a serious health risk if diagnosed promptly; allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
- Hives (Urticaria): Hives, also known as urticaria, are an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps, patches, on the skin that appear suddenly seen in food allergens or even airborne allergens
- Fungus/ Mold Allergy: People with mould allergies, however, may have a reaction if exposed to too much of the fungus.
- Cosmetic Allergy: Although cosmetics can help us feel more beautiful, they can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Certain ingredients used in cosmetics, such as fragrances and preservatives, can act as allergens, substances that trigger an allergic reaction.
- Drug Allergy: Many drugs can cause adverse side effects, and certain medicines can trigger allergic reactions. E.g. penicillin
What some uncommon allergies?
- Water: With only a handful of known cases worldwide, the water allergy is among the rarest of the rare.
- Sunlight: This particular allergy presents as a rash which can take on various forms (large or small spots, or patches) following exposure to sunlight.
- Sweat: Sweat produces a wheal and flare reaction on the surface of the skin.
- Vibrations: very rare form of physical urticaria is that caused by vibrations, causing hives and rashes.
- Sanitary Pads: Vaginal rashes or itching during menstruation, two of the major causes are heat and dampness. Being in contact with sanitary pads can result in the vagina being kept damp. Rashes under such conditions can occur and due to sweat on sanitary pads that have not been absorbed. Could be also due to the brand being used.
- Exercise Induced Asthma or allergy: Exercise often triggers an asthma attack in people who have asthma, but some people have asthma only when they exercise.
Can allergies cause complications?
Anaphylaxis is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic response that is marked by swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure, and dilated blood vessels. In severe cases, a person will go into shock. If anaphylactic shock isn’t treated immediately, it can be fatal.
What is allergy testing?
Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment.
When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.
Allergy blood tests detect and measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies. When you come into contact with an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, your body makes antibodies against it. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in your blood is a very specific antibody that is secreted during an allergic reaction. These antibodies appear in human serum and plasma as a result of sensitization to a specific allergen and can be a determiner in measuring the allergy.
Allergy blood tests usually screen for most common allergy triggers, including dust, pet dander, trees, grasses, weeds, and molds and even food allergies .
To know more about allergy and allergy testing, please contact Wockhardt Hospital.