What is an allergy?

Although allergies are mainly associated with childhood, they can occur at any stage of life. It is believed that up to 8% of adults may suffer from allergies. Allergy is, to put it simply, an abnormal reaction of the immune system. It occurs when a person reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless to most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in mites, pets’ fur or saliva, pollen, insects, ticks, molds, food and some medications.

What causes an allergy?

When a person who is allergic to a specific allergen comes into contact with it, an allergic reaction occurs:

  1. When an allergen (e.g. birch pollen) enters the body, it triggers the production of IgE antibodies.
  2. IgE antibodies attach to mast cells.
  3. When pollen comes into contact with antibodies, mast cells react by releasing histamine.
  4. When the release of histamine is caused by an allergen, it results in inflammation, which might be irritating and uncomfortable.

What are the allergy symptoms?

Allergy symptoms are numerous and depend on the type of allergy. We distinguish food allergy, which arises as a result of eating a product to which we are allergic. Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea) as well as skin problems may occur. In the case of inhalation allergies, the allergen comes into contact with the mucous membrane of the respiratory system. This allergy is mostly manifested by a chronic runny nose, swelling, inflammation of the mucous membranes, coughing, and breathing problems and in more serious cases it can lead to asthma.

Some allergens are referred to as atopic allergens – responsible for the development of atopic diseases. These include atopic dermatitis, asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis and urticaria. Allergens that can cause these ailments are food allergens, such as cow’s milk, chicken eggs, nuts or soybeans, as well as inhalant ones, such as grass pollen, citrus fruits or house dust mites.

Allergy impact on other diseases

Most allergic reactions are rather mild or moderate and do not cause serious health problems. However, a small number of people may experience a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which requires immediate treatment with life-saving medications. That is why it is so important to be aware of your health or potential risks. Extended diagnostics and determination of IgE antibodies against the most common allergen sources will be helpful in this. genXone offers two new allergy tests. The ALEX test currently enables the widest allergological panel, which includes as many as 295 allergens. The POLYCHECK test, on the other hand, allows for the determination of antibodies in 4 separate panels – food, inhalation, atopic and pediatric. Both tests are based on blood samples. To get more information, please contact the genXone office at bok@genxone.eu or visit the polish version of the website.