Allergies: What It Is, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & IgE Test
Allergies are health conditions. They are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These substances are known as allergens. They include pollen, dust mites, mould spores, pet dander, and certain foods.
Symptoms of allergies can range from mild (itchy eyes) to severe (anaphylaxis). Your doctor will guide you about the treatment for allergies with over-the-counter medications. Some people may require prescription-strength medications or immunotherapy.
If you are looking for information on allergies, you've come to the right place. Here, we will cover the different types of allergies, their symptoms, and how they are diagnosed.
What is an Allergy?
Allergy is your body's negative response to certain substances that are harmless to others but do not work well with your immune system. These substances are most likely food items, insects, pet dander, moulds, pollen etc. When your body comes in contact with the allergen (through touching, breathing or consuming), your body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE). It binds with allergens, causing allergy symptoms like itching, rashes or congestion.
Everyone experiences different symptoms depending on the allergen. It can affect one or many body parts like the nose, eyes, throat, skin, lungs, and stomach. Most allergies are mild to moderate.
To treat allergies, you must know their type and cause of it. Let us learn more about it.
What are The Types of Allergies?
There are various types of allergies. Here we are looking at the most common types.
Food Allergy is one of the most common allergies people experience. It develops when you consume certain food items, and your body releases antibodies as a reaction. Some common food allergens are milk, eggs, nuts, shellfish etc. It can develop at any stage of life.
Symptoms of food allergy:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching in one or all body parts
- Swelling around the mouth, face, tongue
The most common skin allergies are eczema and hives. These appear as redness or rashes on the skin. Eczema is an inflammatory condition. It can affect anyone but is most common in children. The most common triggers for eczema are house mites, pollen, pet fur, and irritants like detergents and soaps. It is not contagious. You can control it with atopic creams and antibiotics.
Hives are also known as urticaria. It is a skin rash. It is mostly caused by food, medication, environmental factors or underlying health issues. Hives are usually red, pink-coloured itchy welts on the skin. They can affect anyone, from children to adults. With proper guidance and medication, you can manage the occurrence of hives.
Symptoms of skin allergy:
- Eczema - dry, red, itchy skin
- Hives - a red bumpy rash. It does not last more than 24 hrs.
Allergic Rhinitis is also known as hay fever or seasonal allergies. It develops as a reaction when you inhale an allergen. Some common allergens are pollen, dust, pet dander, mould, perfumes, hairsprays, cigarette smoke etc. You can control allergic Rhinitis with medication and home remedies.
Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Itchy eyes
How to Diagnose Allergies?
Allergies are mostly connected to the immune system. Knowing the cause will help you treat them easily. Whether you are sneezing a lot or getting itchy hives, you can diagnose allergies with blood tests.
Your doctor will help you diagnose allergies by following methods.
- Checking signs and understanding family history with allergies
- Physical examination
- Blood tests (allergen-specific IgE test)
Your lab technician will take a blood sample to test your sensitivities to allergens. After going through the IgE test results, your doctor will guide you about further treatment.
What is Allergen-Specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) Test?
The most common blood test performed to diagnose allergies is the IgE test. This test measures the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your bloodstream. These are allergy-causing antibodies that your body produces as a reaction to allergens. These antibodies react differently depending on the allergen. Therefore it is easier to diagnose the type of allergy with an IgE test.
Allergies are common health conditions. They can affect anyone. Mild to moderate allergies are easy to treat with proper guidance and medication. The best way to diagnose allergies is through blood tests. They help you understand the type of allergy and its cause of it. Once you are aware of allergens, you can avoid them and take medication or immunotherapy.
We at Metropolis are equipped with qualified blood collection technicians. Our highly advanced ImmunoCAP™ machines help you with accurate blood allergy tests. We also provide at-home blood test services and share results online via email and the Metropolis TruHealth app.