What is an allergy?

In the world of medicine, “allergy” is understood to be a disproportionate reaction of the immune system to a specific substance that generally should be harmless to the organism. Allergies are a true non-infectious epidemic. It is believed that 30-40% of the population of developed countries suffers some kind of allergy affliction. Allergies are chronic illnesses that limit quality of life at the psychological, physical, and social levels.

How does an allergy develop?

An allergy is produced through contact with an allergen –  a substance that generates a hypersensitivity immune reaction – that causes the immune system to generate antibodies against that substance. In its first phase, this contact does not produce visible symptoms. Nonetheless, when the body comes in contact with the allergen again, the antibodies that were previously synthesized attack it in whichever tissue, producing the symptoms of the allergy and its consequent negative impact.

What symptoms are produced by an allergy?

The symptoms of an allergy depend on the substance that produces them. Immune system responses can produce inflammatory alterations that can affect the skin, the respiratory tract, or the digestive system. The skin, for example, is an organ that tends to quickly demonstrate the symptoms of an allergy, and these can include itching or skin lesions. At the respiratory level, they tend to manifest as sneezing, nose or eye irritability, difficult breathing, cough, wheezing, etc. These symptoms are produced by the presence of respiratory allergens, especially dust mites, pollen, dead skin cells from animals, and mold, among many others. When the allergies occur in the digestive tract, they can produce symptoms such as itching of the lips or throat, difficulty swallowing, and abdominal pain. Some allergic reactions are more serious and can threaten a person’s life, which is why it is important to put yourself in the hands of a specialist or allergist.

How are allergy tests carried out?

Allergy studies are based on a complete clinical history. Once a problem has been identified, the next step is the execution of an immunological allergy study performed through epicutaneous tests also called Prick Tests. At our specialized allergy clinic, these tests are carried out in series or batteries including air allergens (pneumoallergens), food allergens, insects or mite allergens, and others. The procedure consists of applying a drop of the allergen to the skin and then lightly scratching it. The study takes about 30 minutes and is painless, producing only a mild itching if the result is positive.

Specialists in clinical immunology and allergy treatment in Barcelona.

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