Allergy & Immunology


General or Other | Allergy & Immunology (Medicine Field)


Description

An allergy represents the abnormal response of the immune system of the body to some type of foreign substance that the body came in contact with. Immunology is a branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen.

Specialization

An allergist/immunologist is a physician trained to prevent, diagnose, manage, and treat allergic disease. Allergists/immunologists are highly qualified to manage immune system disorders (allergies, asthma, inherited immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases).

Symptoms and Diseases

The most commun symptoms of immunology are: malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders, physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. Disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimotos thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 1, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Immunology covers the study of all aspects of the immune system.

Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergens enter the body through the eyes, airways, or on the skin, leading to symptoms such as: coughing; breathing difficulty; hives; itchy nose, eyes, throat, or skin; rash; sinus pressure; sneezing; redness in the eyes, wheezing. Initial contact with the allergen does not produce any symptoms. However, with time the immune system begins to form antibodies to the allergen, and future interactions with the allergen trigger more dramatic responses. The response to these sensitizing allergens varies from mild sneezing to respiratory difficulty, shock, and death. Risk factors for allergy can be placed in two general categories: host and environmental factors. Host factors include heredity, gender, race and age. Four major environmental candidates are alterations in exposure to infectious diseases during early childhood, environmental pollution, allergen levels, and dietary changes.

Diagnosis, Treatment and Benefits

A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. These include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling. Blood tests can also be done to look for an allergen-specific IgE. Laboratory tests performed to diagnose autoimmune disorders depend on the particular disorder the doctor suspects a person has, but usually include autoantibody tests as well as tests for inflammation such as CRP and ESR.

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