Affecting millions of people worldwide, allergic and immunologic conditions are much more common than one thinks.
Most people suffer from allergies as a result of an overreaction to the immune system, typically developing from substances that are considered harmless.
What is an Allergy?
Even though an individual may come in contact with an allergen, the allergic reaction may not develop instantly. The general process allows the immune system the time to gradually build up a sensitivity to the allergen before it manifests into an overreaction.
It is also the job of the immune system to identify and recall the allergen, for which it needs some time. Attainting sensitivity to the substance in questions chemicals called IgE antibodies is created by the immune system when they come in contact with the allergen. They trigger the release of chemicals like histamine, which initiates swelling and inflammation. This procedure is referred to as sensitization.
This process of sensitization may take a few days or even several years for select individuals. The patient may possibly experience select few symptoms but a not the entire array of symptoms for the allergy.
Symptoms of Allergy
Inflammation and irritation are two of the most common causes of allergic reactions. However, the symptoms and signs are specific to the type of allergen. The gut, skin, sinuses, airways, eyes and nasal passages may be prone to allergic reactions.
Many may confuse other conditions with allergic reactions. The cause of the common cold and hay fever is different, yet the irritations created are similar.
A range of triggers and symptoms that are the reason behind causing allergic reactions in individuals:
Allergic reactions caused by dust and pollen
Causes of Allergy
Immunoglobin or IgE is an antibody that attacks the immune system that results in allergic reactions. These specific antibodies are then released to fight foreign and probably injurious constituents in the body. In order to kill the allergen, the IgE that is released triggers the production of chemicals that leads to the allergic reaction.
Histamine is another chemical that results in compression of the muscles in the airways and the walls of the blood vessels. The chemical dictates the nose lining to generate more mucus.
Who is most at Risk in contracting Allergies?
Those who are most at risk of developing allergies are:
If you have a family history of allergies or asthma
If you a child
If you have experience asthma in the past
If there is a lack of exposure to sunlight
If you have a medical history of allergies
If you have undergone a caesarean birth
Some Common Allergens
There are no locational restrictions for potential allergens to appear. In fact, an allergy may be caused by any food. For example, there are particular elements such as gluten, the protein present in wheat, etc., in food that can lead to an allergic reaction.
However, there are eight food types are more than likely to result in allergies, including:
• Eggs, particularly, egg-whites
• Nuts from trees
Other elements too may lead to allergies that include:
Animal materials, for example,
Medicines such as,
Insect stings from,
Insects bites comprise of,
Other types of allergens are caused by
The initial consultation will include discussing the prevalent allergic symptoms with the healthcare provider – their frequency of occurrence and what seems to be the cause of the symptoms. The doctor may also inquire about the patient’s family history on allergies too.
Diagnostic testing may be recommended basis the initial consultation post which the patient may be referred to a specialist.
Some of the diagnostic screenings may include the following:
Blood Test that is able to measure the levels of IgE antibodies that are present in the immune system. This screening is also known as the radioallergosorbent test (RAST)
Skin prick test also called puncture testing allows the skin to pricked with a tiny quantity of a potential allergen. The patient is kept under observation to check the skin reacts to the allergen by turning itchy, red or swollen.
Patch tests are able to recognize eczema by way of taping special metal discs loaded with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen on the patient’s back. After 48 hours and then periodically, the patient’s skin is checked for skin reactions.
The best and the most effective therapy and effective management of an allergy is to be able t avoid contact with the potential allergen. That may not always be possible. Hence, treatment mediums for allergies include:
• Medications and drugs assist in minimising the impact of the symptoms of an allergic reaction. However, it does not really treat the condition itself. Most medicines for allergies are available over-the-counter. It is recommended that you consult a doctor before consuming any medicines.
• Antihistamines help in blocking the action of histamine. It is recommended that this treatment is used with caution antihistamine are not suitable for children.
• Decongestants are short-term medicines that help in unblocking the nose when suffering from hay fever, pet allergy or dust allergy.
• Leukotriene receptor antagonists or anti-leukotrienes are especially useful for asthma treatments that block the effects of the leukotrienes.
• Steroid sprays are applied to the inner linings of the nose that assist in minimising nasal congestion.
• Immunotherapy, also referred to as hyposensitization, rehabilitates the immune system where the healthcare provider administers allergens. The dosage is gradually increased over a significant period of time, possibly years.
The goal of allergy treatment is to induce tolerance in the long term by helping to reduce the tendency of the allergens that trigger IgE creation.
Beginning as a branch of microbiology, immunology was initially thought to be specially related to infectious diseases only. The study of infectious diseases and how the body responds to them is the foundation in developing the study of immunology. This also laid the foundation of the concept of germ theory.
What is Clinical Immunology?
Focussing on a particular physiological process, inflammation that is absolutely essential to good health, specifically battling pathogenic organisms, recovery from injury and containment of neoplasms, constitutes the medical sub-speciality of clinical immunology. The inflammation subsequently contributes to the pathogenesis of the condition affecting more or less every organ system in the body that is mediated by the cells and soluble products.
Clinical immunologists face the challenge of attempting to minimize a dizzying range of disease descriptions to having a methodical identification of pathogenic mechanisms. They also investigate accelerating the translation of the primary perceptions and researching new discoveries that can be more effective in terms of disease prevention and treatment.
What does clinical immunology involve?
Clinical immunology involves the following:
• Conditions that result from immune system disorders which could be caused by the under-activity or failure, abnormal activation or malignant or cancerous growths of any cellular system in the body.
• Pathology of the conditions where immune reactions also play a pivotal role.
• Drugs and medicines that are able to transform or adjust the immune system.
• The immune reaction to particular pathogens can be modulated by vaccines and other agents.
Disorders of the immune system
The broad categories of the diseases resulting from disorders of the immune system include:
• Immunodeficiency develops if there is a failure to provide the required responses to pathogens in the immune system. Immunodeficiency is viewed as a response to specific to long term conditions such as diabetes, chronic granulomatous disease or resulting from an infection, for example, HIV AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency virus causing Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome).
• Autoimmunity is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the host’s body, for example, in the case of systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's disease and myasthenia gravis.
• Hypersensitivities and allergic reactions also form a critical part of disorders of the immune system where the response mechanism to harmless compounds are not appropriate.
About the Department
The Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Fortis, Chennai is one of the most renowned in the city that is dedicated its services to superiority in quality patient care. Over the last several years, the department has proactively grown to accommodate new research and treatment methods is committed to ongoing education and advocacy. With experienced physicians associated with the Department of Allergy and Clinical Advocacy at Fortis Chennai, the establishment offers comprehensive and evidence-based diagnosis and presents therapeutic solutions in order effectively manage a spectrum of allergic and immunology related disorders such as asthma, food allergy, atopic dermatitis (eczema), year-round and seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), anaphylaxis, sinusitis, angioedema (swelling), urticaria (hives), stinging insect allergy, common variable immunodeficiency, aspirin sensitivity syndromes, chronic cough and drug allergy in both adults and children.
The evaluations offered are extensive and includes procedures that allow confirmation of the diagnosis. With the expertise and knowledge to treat rate to difficult allergy and immunology related disorders such as C1 inhibitor deficiency syndromes, severe asthma, systemic mast cell disorders (e.g. mastocytosis), resistant-to-treat urticaria and complex condition of the immune system, the specialists at Fortis Chennai provide perform unique consultative services to provide comprehensive clinical and compassionate care to their patients.