The number of people suffering from various types of allergies is growing every year, and the list of allergenic substances is getting longer and longer. Many sufferers have symptoms year-round, depending on what they are allergic to.
Medicine has made great strides in the fight against allergies, from diagnosis to the latest treatments, including desensitization.
The number of allergy sufferers is increasing in countries where civilization is developing at a rapid pace. That's why the so-called hygienic theory of allergy has emerged, saying that one of the causes of the disease is sterile living conditions. When a person's immune system is formed in an environment where there are few bacteria and viruses - because we eliminate them through vaccinations and maintaining personal hygiene - it is unable to cope with all sorts of substances.
Many experts recognize that it is not sterility that leads to allergies, but environmental pollution - preservatives in food, chemicals, car exhaust, industrial pollution. Although scientists are more often of the opinion that these substances do not so much cause allergies as exacerbate them.
However, everyone agrees on one thing - the propensity to allergies has its origins in the genes. If one of the parents suffered from allergies, there is a 50% probability that the child will also get the disease. From parents or grandparents we inherit only the propensity to allergy, but not the type of allergy.
Allergy diagnosis - allergy tests
It develops at a rapid pace. The type of allergen can be determined in detail in order to take the appropriate treatment. The doctor takes a thorough history and decides what type of tests should be carried out. The basic, screening method of diagnosis is skin tests. They can be performed only after the age of three.
Modern and more specific tests are blood tests, or determinations of specific antibodies from the IgE class. The latest blood tests have higher sensitivity and specificity determinations. A panel of 10 or 20 allergenic substances is relatively inexpensive, and during the test, with a single prick, you can obtain allergen-specific IgE results.
The method is safe, unburdening to the patient, and above all, more accurate. It does not require preparation, withdrawal of antihistamines, which is sometimes difficult due to the symptoms of the disease. Blood tests can be performed as early as in infants with suspected food allergies, in pregnant women, in patients with dermatological lesions. In patients with suspected allergy to hymenopterous insect venom, it is also better to perform blood tests, since the skin test carries the risk of anaphylactic reaction. In this case, a full specialized diagnosis is carried out in allergy departments. It is worth adding that people who are allergic to wasp venom, bee venom, should carry an ampoule of epinephrine.
In the simplest terms, it is the administration of the allergen that sensitizes the patient in appropriate doses, in order for the body to develop an immunity to the substance. Currently, this is the most effective way to fight allergies. Most importantly, it eliminates not only the symptoms of the allergy, but first of all its cause. It restores the patient's normal reaction to the intolerated substance. Treatments can be started as early as age 5.
Of course, the first step is to visit an allergist and get tested to determine the exact type of allergen. Then the doctor chooses the type of vaccine. It can be administered subcutaneously or in drops, under the tongue. The injectable vaccine is initially given weekly or bi-weekly, later once a month. The oral vaccine is recommended for children who are unwell from injections. It is also recommended for people who cannot regularly attend the treatment room. It is more convenient because it can be administered anywhere, even if only when traveling.
The vaccine contains an appropriate dose of the allergen. Its amount is gradually increased until finally a maintenance dose is established, which must be taken for up to several years. The effects are visible after about a year of immunotherapy. Thus, desensitization is not a one-time treatment, but an effective one. With this method, many types of allergies are treated, including sensitization to insect venom, pollen and dust mites.
Pregnant women, people with cancer or chronic heart disease cannot undergo desensitization.
The CM Luxmed allergy clinic performs skin tests and provides desensitization treatments. The Luxmed laboratory performs blood tests in single determinations or in packages.