Do not let your allergies control you

What is Allergy?

Allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless for most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in house dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, moulds, foods and some medicines. Atopy is the genetic (inherited) tendency to develop allergic diseases. People with atopy are said to be atopic.

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, pollen) enters the body, triggering an antibody response. The antibodies attach themselves to special cells, called mast cells. When the pollen 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, the resulting swelling and inflammation is extremely irritating and uncomfortable.

Which areas of the body may be affected?

Depending on the allergen and where it enters your body, you may experience different symptoms. For example, pollen, when breathed in through the nose, usually causes symptoms in the nose, eyes, sinuses and throat (allergic rhinitis).

Allergy to foods usually causes stomach or bowel problems, and may cause hives (urticaria).

Allergic reactions can also involve several parts of the body at the same time.

This can then cause symptoms in the:

  • Nose and/or Eyes – Hay Fever (Allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis) Skin – Eczema, Hives (Urticaria) Lungs – Asthma
  • Skin – Eczema, Hives (Urticaria)
  • Lungs – Asthma
Common Allergy Symptoms
Fatigue Frequent Headaches
Sneezing Postnasal Drainage
Itching of the Nose Frequent “Colds”
Recurrent Ear Infections Recurrent Cough or Bronchitis
Chronic Sinus Infections Dizziness
Dark Circles Under the Eyes
Itching, Watering, Redness or Swelling of the Eyes
Tightness in the Chest, Wheezing or Asthma
Eczema, Skin Rashes, Itching, or Hives

Types of Allergies

Allergies exist in many different forms:

  • Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
    • Food allergies or food intolerance affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and wonder if they have a food allergy.
  • Seasonal Allergies
    • Winter and Spring Allergies: Spring is the time of year that we normally think of when it comes to seasonal allergies. As the trees start to bloom and the pollen gets airborne, allergy sufferers begin their annual ritual of sniffling and sneezing
    • Summer Allergies: Although spring most readily comes to mind when we think of allergies, many of the same allergic triggers that can make us miserable in the spring persist into summer
    • Fall Allergies: The allergy triggers might be slightly different, but they can be just as misery-inducing as the flower pollen that fills the air in the spring and summer
  • Pet Allergies
    • Dog and Cat Allergy: For a person with dog allergies, life in a dog-loving country isn’t easy. Dog and cat dander gets everywhere, including places where dogs have never set a paw
  • Other Allergies
    • 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, or welts on the skin that appear suddenly – either as a result of allergies, or for other reasons
    • Mold Allergy: People with mold allergies, however, may have a reaction if exposed to too much of the fungus
    • Pollen Allergies: For most people, a change of seasons signals the beginning of long, lazy days or cool, crisp evenings
    • Dust Allergy: Life with dust allergies — whether they’re yours or a family member’s — comes with a load of questions. For instance, might a dust allergy explain your child’s never-ending cold symptoms
    • 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. In an allergic reaction, the immune system mistakenly responds to a drug by creating an immune response against it

Allergies and Anaphylaxis

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.

Allergy Testing

Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.

Types of Allergy Blood Tests

Allergy blood tests detect and measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. When you come into contact with an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, your body makes antibodies against it. Allergy blood tests usually screen for at least 10 of the most common allergy triggers, including dust, pet dander, trees, grasses, weeds, and molds related to where you live. They are also particularly helpful in diagnosing food allergies.

Allergy blood testing is recommended if you:

  • Are using a medicine known to interfere with test results and cannot stop taking it for a few days. This would include antihistamines, steroids, and certain antidepressants
  • Cannot tolerate the many needle scratches required for skin testing
  • Have an unstable heart condition
  • Have poorly controlled asthma
  • Have severe eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or another severe skin condition
  • Might have an extreme reaction during skin testing or have a history of life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis

Allergy blood tests may be referred to as immunoassay tests and include:

Immunoglobulin E (IgE): IgE antibodies appear in human serum and plasma as a result of sensitization to a specific allergen. Measuring circulating IgE antibodies provides an objective assessment of sensitization to an allergen. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is an antibody that’s strongly linked to the body’s allergy response. Elevated concentrations of IgE are generally thought of in the context of allergic disease.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, or EIA)- ImmunoCAP Specific IgE(PhadiaTop):

ImmunoCAP Phadiatop is a blood test designed to differentiate atopic from non-atopic patients. Quantifying IgE antibodies with ImmunoCAP Specific IgE accurately evaluates allergy patients. Using ImmunoCAP Complete Allergens or ImmunoCAP Allergen Components to determine the presence of IgE antibodies offers a broad range of allergens or allergen components to aid the reliable diagnosis of patients with suspected allergy.

ImmunoCAP Phadiatop/Phadiatop Infant

In younger children aged 0-3, allergic sensitization is mostly related to food allergens (such as egg, milk, fish, soybean and peanut) rather than inhalant allergens. However, antibodies to inhalant allergens such as house dust mites and pets can still appear early in life. With this in mind, a combination of Phadiatop and the most common food allergens is recommended when testing children for atopy.

Clinical value

Phadiatop and Phadiatop Infant are assays for the graded determination of atopy with semiquantitative or qualitative results.

Accuracy of ImmunoCAP Specific IgE allergen test (Phadiatop)

  • Sensitivity 93%
  • Specificity 89%

Living and Managing

If something irritates you, avoid it. That’s the motto that allergy sufferers must adopt. By tuning into your allergy triggers, you can rein in your reactions

Tests to remember

  • Allergy Phadiatop (Pediatrics)
  • Allergy Comprehensive Food Panel (Veg/Non Veg)
  • Allergy Pediatrics Panel (1 / 2)
  • Allergy Food Panel Vegetarian (Mini/Maxi)
  • Allergy Eczema Panel (Mini/Maxi-1/Maxi-2)
  • Allergy Rhinitis Panel (Mini/Maxi)