Up to 25 percent of the population in the industrialized world suffers from allergies, and the number is rising. Allergies are reactions of the immune system to substances that, in most people, cause no symptoms. Allergies occur due to an immune response that reacts towards natural substances in the environment in the same way it would react towards something harmful. The reason that the immune system reacts to a harmless substance is unknown.
Types of Allergies:
Three types of allergies exist: respiratory allergy, skin-related allergy, and food allergy.
The respiratory system is usually affected if a person is allergic to tree pollen, grass pollen, animals (such as pets and farm animals), molds, and house dust mites. Allergic symptoms include sneezing, itching, watery eyes and nose, and wheezing. Hay fever (rhinitis) and/or asthma are the most common results of respiratory allergies.
Allergy to substances such as metals and fragrances and allergy to proteins such as latex affect the skin and is known as allergic eczema or contact allergy (contact dermatitis). The symptoms are usually itching, burning, reddening, and blisters of the affected area. Allergic eczema most often occurs in early childhood but also appears in older children and adults.
The most common food-related allergies are cow’s milk, egg, soy, yeast, corn, wheat, and oat. Eczema, diarrhea, nausea, and, in some cases, anaphylaxis are potential symptoms of food-related allergies. The best way to treat food allergies is avoidance and/or rotation. You cannot build a blocking antibody to foods. We found that in the milder cases of food allergies, symptoms are relieved after the first vial of allergy serum.
What is in the serum?
Ironically, the same substances (allergens) that cause allergies are also used to treat them. The serum builds up blocking antibodies against antigens which cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the allergen, reducing symptoms when the same allergen is encountered in the future.
The health professional doing the skin prick or intradermal test will:
- Clean the test site (usually on your back or arm) with alcohol.
- Place drops of the possible allergens on your skin about 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 2 in. (5 cm) apart. This allows many substances to be tested at the same time.
- Prick the skin under each drop with a needle. The needle passes through the drop and allows some of the allergen to penetrate your skin. For the intradermal test, a needle is used to inject the allergen solution deeper into the skin. See a picture of a skin prick allergy test.
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