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What Is An Allergy And Why Do You Need to Get Tested?

What Is An Allergy And Why Do You Need to Get Tested?

Max Lab

Nov 16, 2022

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is your body’s reaction to a substance or condition. It happens when your body produces and releases histamine or histamine-like substances. In simple terms, an allergy is what causes your immune system to overreact to a substance, which is otherwise harmless to most people. These substances are called allergens and are found in dust mites, certain food items, pollen, insects, moulds, etc. These foreign substances or antigens trigger the immune system to create immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that can cause a range of allergic symptoms, such as rashes, runny noses, watery eyes, minor headaches, and other types of skin allergies.

The creation of these antibodies usually occurs at exposure when antigens are inhaled, swallowed, injected, or come in contact via mouth, eyes, and skin. The body’s immune system responds not due to the harmful nature of these antigens but because these substances are picked up by the antigen-presenting cells and alert the immune system of a foreign presence. It causes the activation of the nearby immune white blood cells called lymphocytes, which include killer cells, T, and B cells. T cells usually wipe out any traces of the antigen, but in cases where antigens enter the body of a non-allergic person, B cells transform into plasma cells that create antibodies. These antibodies, with the help of mast cells and basophils, attach themselves to the antigens and the release of histamine occurs, which causes allergies.

Though there are different types of allergic reactions, and they can depend on the severity of an attack, some cases could be life-threatening and need urgent attention.

What Are Allergic Reactions?

Different antigens cause the immune system to react differently; the symptoms that the person is experiencing are what are called allergic reactions. Despite that, these are some common symptoms of allergy that most people experience after the reaction:

  • Itchy, watery eyes and nose
  • Running or Blocked nose
  • Rashes
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Swelling and Redness on certain body parts
  • Coughing, Wheezing or difficulty breathing

Though these reactions usually go away on their own, it is best to get an allergy test done to determine what types of allergies you may have.

Types of allergic reactions:

  • Skin allergy - Eczema, Contact Dermatitis, Hives, Angioedema
  • Food allergy - Vomiting, Stomach cramps, weak pulse

Types of Allergy Tests and When to Take Them

There are various types of allergies and, as a result, various allergy tests that your doctor may order you to take depending on what your symptoms are. While it is simple to detect allergies, determining the causes requires test results. Types of allergy tests:

  • A skin prick or patch test, in which a small amount of the allergen is applied to your skin to see how it reacts
  • Blood tests are performed to look for specific allergens responsible for triggering the immune system and causing all the symptoms.

These tests are usually followed by a special diet in which you avoid or eat less of a food to which you may be allergic to see if your symptoms improve. It is also called a preventive mechanism to cope with allergies.

What Are the Treatments Available For Allergies?

After an allergy profile test that measures the IgE antibody in your blood, your specialist could prescribe an allergy management plan explaining the precautions and further treatments you might require. These treatments usually include:

  • Avoiding things you are allergic to.
  • Taking anti-histamines to relieve the extent of symptoms.
  • Emergency medicines for severe allergic reactions.
  • Immunotherapy, performed under the supervision of a specialist, involves slowly exposing the patient's immune system to better prepare it in fighting against the allergy gradually.

Allergies are also often inherited, and an allergy test can help you figure out what is triggering your symptoms so that you can find ways to minimise or avoid them.

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