Updated: Mar 27
A stuffy or runny nose, sneezing or coughing, skin rashes, itchy nose, eyes or ears are just some of the symptoms you may experience if you have an allergic reaction. It is a reaction of the immune system caused by hypersensitivity to various, harmless to the body substances, which causes some of the listed symptoms.
In an allergic reaction, your immune system produces a large amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. This increased amount of immunoglobulin E in turn activates the release of histamine, which triggers the allergic reaction. The quick detection of high levels of IgE in the blood helps you to understand whether your symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction or not and to take timely measures.
What is an allergic reaction?
Most often, an allergic reaction is defined as a hypersensitivity to substances known as allergens, which are usually harmless to most people. Immune cells incorrectly identify these antigens as a threat. In response to this “attack”, the immune system synthesises IgE antibodies, which leads to the activation of immune cells called mast cells and basophils and they release histamine, which leads to the body's allergic reaction. If there is a large amount of IgE in your blood, then your body is reacting to an allergen. The normal concentration of IgE in the body is usually low - less than 0.001% of all immunoglobulins.
What are the symptoms?
Depending on what provokes the allergic reaction, the symptoms can be very different. Some of the most common symptoms are:
Skin problems (rash, itching, swelling, inflammation, pain, urticaria, eczema)
Itching in the nose, eyes and ears
Redness or watering of the eyes
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
One of the most severe allergic reactions is called an anaphylactic shock. This is a condition in which breathing is impeded by swelling of the tongue, lips and/or throat and blood pressure drops, which can lead to fainting. All these symptoms can be caused by other diseases, so it is important to find out if the cause is an allergic reaction.
What are the causes and different types of allergies?
A person is born with a set of genes, depending on which he may be prone to certain types of allergies. Each type of IgE antibody reacts to a different allergen and reacts only to it. Therefore, some people are allergic to only one thing (they produce IgE antibodies only for it) or to many things (they have more than one type of IgE antibody).
Allergens can be divided into several groups:
Food: eggs, milk, wheat, nuts, etc.
Inhalant: pollen, house dust, mould and mildew
Animals: skin cells, saliva, urine, etc. from different species of animals
Insect poison: bees, wasps, hornets, etc.
Medicine: ingredients in various medicinal products, often in antibiotics and anti-inflammatories
Household: cosmetics and detergents, skin contact with materials such as latex, leather, metal, etc.
According to the symptoms, allergies can be divided into three types:
Respiratory: allergic rhinitis (hay fever, seasonal pollen allergies) and asthma
Cutaneous: urticaria, atopic dermatitis, eczema, contact dermatitis
Sometimes the symptoms alone are not enough to determine if we are having an allergic reaction to something, as they can be mistaken for the usual symptoms of viral and bacterial infections such as flu, cold, sore throat, etc. Therefore, it is important to check if the immunoglobulin E level is abnormally high, and a rapid test is the best way to take immediate action.
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