Types of Allergies, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Immunology is a discipline concerned with a wide range of immune system disorders. They treat allergies, a condition where the body reacts inappropriately to an innocuous substance. If you have allergies, consult the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Maryland for comprehensive Silver Spring immunology services.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is the body’s response to substances it considers harmful. Your immune system’s reaction to a compound could vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms may include coughing and sneezing, while some severe reactions could cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.

Allergies start when your immune system overreacts by releasing antibodies to counter the allergen. The reaction may arise after ingesting, inhaling, or skin contact with a substance like pollen.

Your body releases specific antibodies in response to a given substance. The most common antibody is Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE antibodies are responsible for the body’s reaction to bee stings, food allergies, and certain drugs.

Types of allergies

When your body has excessive antibodies like IgE, it may overreact to some substances. Repeated exposure to the same substance may result in an allergic reaction.

An allergy triggered by an IgE antibody is known as a Type I hypersensitivity. Non-IgE components such as cells and other antibodies mediate Type II, III, and IV allergies. For non-IgE antibodies, the reactions emerge gradually and often affect the gastrointestinal tract.

You may develop an allergic reaction to substances such as:

  •  Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Insect stings and venom
  • Animal dander
  • Latex

Diagnosing allergies

If you suspect you have an allergy, visit your immunologist promptly for a diagnosis. Allergic reactions tend to worsen with time, even when the symptoms are mild. Your provider will organize tests to determine the best strategy to manage the condition.

Your immunologist starts by discussing your medical history and performing physical exams. Physical exams involve studying your eyes, ears, and nose for signs of allergic reactions. It may also include x-rays and lung tests to evaluate your breathing.

Allergy tests may involve taking blood samples to establish quantities of IgE antibodies in the body. The blood usually has small amounts of IgE. Therefore, higher amounts indicate your immune overreacts to allergens and could trigger an allergic reaction.

Depending on your symptoms, your provider may perform a skin test, which involves pricking the skin. The test can check your body’s reaction to up to 50 different substances. If a bump develops on the target area, it indicates a positive result for allergic reactions.

Treatment options for allergies

Allergy treatment options vary depending on the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis. It may involve simple steps like identifying allergens and avoiding them. Medications like pills, nasal sprays, and eye drops could help manage symptoms.

Immunotherapy is another treatment option for severe allergic reactions. Your provider may prescribe purified allergen injections to regulate the immune response to specific substances.

An alternative to injections is sublingual tablets placed under the tongue. The medication enhances the body’s tolerance to allergens.

Consult the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Maryland to schedule a consultation today.

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