Allergies refer to the hypersensitive immune reactions that occur in response to certain substances when they come in contact with the body. The substances which are responsible for allergic reactions are called allergens. Common allergens include food, medicines, insect stings, pollen, dust mites, pet dander and house hold chemicals.
Signs and symptoms of allergy
The symptoms associated with allergy may vary based on the type of allergen. Signs and symptoms of allergy include:
- Itchy eyes
- Blocked nose
- Itchy skin
- Tongue swelling
- Swelling in throat and face
Mild allergic reactions are often inevident. Moderate reactions may make you feel little sick- like when you have cold or flu. A severe allergic reaction is referred to as anaphylaxis and they have extreme symptoms such as:
- Severe itching
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Tightness in throat
- Tingling of hands, legs or scalp
Diagnosis of Allergy
Your doctor will first take a detailed medical history. He will also ask about your work, home and eating habits to find out the cause of allergy. You will be recommended a blood test, skin prick test and patch test to find out the source of allergy.
- Blood test: When the body is exposed to an allergen, the body starts producing antibodies. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is an antibody which is strongly associated with the body’s allergy response. Blood tests are conducted to find out the levels of Immunoglobulin E (IG-E) levels in the body. If the levels of IG-E are elevated in the body, then the person is likely to have an allergy. If the patient has elevated IgE levels, then specific tests would be performed to detect the specific allergen.
Other allergy related blood tests are:
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA): This test measures the amount of allergen specific antibodies in your blood.
- Radio allergo sorbent test (RAST): This test detects the specific allergen-related antibodies to find the allergens causing the symptoms
- Skin prick test: It is also called as puncture testing. This test is done to find out the presence of any allergic reactions. In this test, a small quantity of allergen is placed on a specific point on the forearm or back. The outer layer of the skin is scratched to let the allergen seep in and symptoms of allergic reaction are observed. If any redness or inflammation appears n the skin, then that person is having allergy.
- Patch test: This test is done for the patients suffering from dermatitis or eczema. In this procedure, special metal discs with suspected allergens are taped on to the back. The doctor checks for the allergic reactions 48 hours later.
Management of Allergies
Natural ways to reduce the symptoms of allergy:
- Dietary changes: Hot and spicy foods such as ginger, cayenne pepper and fenugreek help in relieving nasal congestion.
- Nasal Rinses: It helps in clearing the mucus from the nose and ease congestion.
- Increased fluid intake: Drink lots of water, juices and non-alcoholic drinks. Fluids make the mucus thin and thereby provides relief. Drinking hot tea and soup can also soothe congestion.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can worsen runny, itchy nose and watery eyes. Choose smoke-free restaurants, night clubs etc. Try to avoid fumes as they can worsen the symptoms of allergy.
- Foods to be avoided: Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, chocolate, banana, artificial sweeteners, cucumber, bottled citrus juice and soy must be avoided when you have an allergic reaction.
Medical treatment for allergy: Drugs cannot cure allergy, however few drugs relieve the symptoms of allergy. Most of the medicines used in the treatment of allergy are available as over-the-counter drugs.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines are prescribed to block the action of a chemical called histamine, which is released into the body in response to an allergic reaction.
- Decongestants: Decongestants are prescribed to relieve nasal congestion which may occur due to pet or dust allergy.
- Leukotriene receptor antagonist: Anti-leukotrienes are prescribed in patients suffering from allergies, when other treatments do not work. They act by blocking the chemicals which are responsible for constriction of the airways.
- Steroid sprays: They are applied in the inner lining of the nose. They help in reducing nasal congestion by reducing the inflammation within the nasal passages.
Prevention of allergy
- Stay away from dust: Even when the weather is good, pollen count may be high in the outside air. Close your doors and windows to protect your indoor air from dust and pollen. If possible install HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filters) in your room, which traps these particles.
- Freshen up regularly after coming from outside: Whenever you enter your house, you unknowingly bring the potential allergens into your house. So, whenever you enter home, make sure you take a shower, change your clothes and leave your foot wear outside.
- Wear a mask: Try to wear a mask when moving in a crowd or going outside. Use N95 respiratory mask, which traps 95% of the particles like pollen and allergens.
- Regular change of bedding: Use fresh bed sheets and clothes to avoid the contact with allergens.Use dust-proof mattress covers and pillow-case covers to prevent dust allergies.
Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?
Apollo Diagnostics uses the world’s most advanced, FDA-approved In-Vitro Allergy Testing platform, Phadia. Allergy tests are characterized by the presence of specific IgE antibody. IgE antibody development can be detected at an early stage, indicating sensitization, even before clinical symptoms have developed. A single sample is sufficient for screening to know whether you are allergic or not. If the results are positive , same sample can be used to do the customized Allergy Panels and individual allergens like Food Panel, Dust Panel, Grass Panel, Drug Panel, Pediatric & Adult Allergy Panels ( As per the physician recommendation / your lifestyle ).
We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.
For appointments, please call 4444 2424.
- 12 ways to defeat allergy. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-education-17/slideshow-natural-relief. Accessed on 27-09-2017
- Allergies. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Allergies/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed on 27-09-2017
- Allergies: causes, diagnosis and treatment. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264419.php. Accessed on 27-09-2017