An allergy is an immune system disorder that triggers a negative response to a normally harmless environmental substance called an allergen. Those who suffer from allergies are often sensitive to more than one allergen. Substances that frequently cause reactions are:
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
- Insect stings
Allergy is characterized by an excessive activation of certain white blood cells (mast cells and basophils) when they come in contact with certain IgE antibodies.
Common allergic reactions include:
- Hay fever
- Food allergies
- Reactions to the venom of wasps and bees
Risk factors for allergy can be placed into two general categories: Host Factors and Environment Factors. Host factors include heredity, sex, race, and age, with heredity being the most significant. Four major environmental factors are:
- Exposure to infectious diseases during early childhood
- Environmental pollution
- Allergen levels
- Dietary changes
Dust and pollen particles are airborne allergens that can cause symptoms when they come in contact with sensitive areas such as lungs, nose, and eyes. As an example, seasonal hay fever is an irritation of the nose that produces itching, sneezing, and redness of the eyes. More serious asthmatic symptoms may be triggered from inhaled allergens, which can cause narrowed airways, increased production of mucus in the lungs, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
While most allergies are simply bothersome and uncomfortable, in some people, severe reactions to environmental or dietary allergens, or to medication, may result in life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Treatments for allergies include allergen avoidance, use of anti-histamines, steroids or other oral medications, and immunotherapy to desensitize the allergen response.
Two main tests now exist to diagnose allergic conditions: skin testing to determine responses to known allergens, and blood testing to detect the presence and levels of allergen-specific IgE. Patients with an elevated total IgE have a high probability of allergic sensitization, warranting further investigation with carefully chosen allergens.
Geonostics has made the process of blood testing for total IgE easier than ever. Through the use of a customized collection kit, a finger-stick micro-sample specimen can now be collected by the health care professional or an assistant right in the practice, eliminating the need for phlebotomy.
Providers as well as patients appreciate the ease and convenience of finger stick collection, and with multiple transportation options, samples can be shipped to our lab from almost anywhere in the world with rapid turnaround time of results reporting.