An allergic reaction involves the immune system. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This substance is called an allergen. In the case of a Type I allergic response the immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction or the development of the signs and symptoms of an allergy. An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some people, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma. In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur. A number of different allergens are responsible for allergic reactions. Commonly, these can include:
- Insect stings
- Animal dander
If you or your child have allergy symptoms, an allergist can help with a diagnosis. An allergist has advanced training and experience to properly diagnose your condition and prescribe an allergy treatment and management plan to help you feel better and live better. Often, laboratory tests are performed to determine whether there is an immune response to the allergens. It is important to contact an allergy specialist should you experience immediate reactions after eating something or should your results show that there is a potential allergy. It would also be useful to keep a diary to record everything you are in contact with or consume, and also to document how you are feeling. Remember that preservatives, chemicals in detergents etc could also be aggravating symptoms in some cases, and these are not tested in the panels at MDS.
We also offer a 107 IgE allergen panel called AllergyPro, the largest IgE panel in South Africa (see AllergyPro tab to the left). This panel costs R2500.00. If you are interested in having an IgE test done, please contact us.