Treatments & Therapies

Allergology – treatment, effects and risks

Allergology

The doctor understands allergology to be a discipline that deals with the development, diagnosis and treatment of allergies . The diagnosis takes place either in vitro or in vivo. In-vivo test procedures on the patient themselves are sometimes associated with the risk of an allergic shock for the allergy sufferer .

What is allergology?

Allergology is a medical specialty. The focus of the medical branch is the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. In the research area, allergology is also concerned with the individual characteristics and development mechanisms of allergies.

German allergists are usually internists , pneumologists , dermatologists or general practitioners . In order to be allowed to bear the title of allergist, they must have received appropriate further training in the allergological part of medicine. The German regulations on this differ from those abroad.

In Switzerland, for example, allergists already have to focus on a specialist degree in allergology during their medical studies. The term immunology is often associated with allergists. An allergy is an immunological overreaction. Therefore, allergology, in the broadest sense, studies immunological disorders related to a specific allergen.

Treatments & Therapies

Allergy diagnostics is one of the most important areas of allergology. This area includes all examination procedures that help in the search for an allergy-causing substance and in the clarification of the causes. The sub-areas of allergy diagnostics are in-vivo and in-vitro diagnostics.

In-vivo diagnostics take place on the patient himself. With in-vitro diagnostics, on the other hand, the doctor takes bodily fluids from the patient, which are examined in the laboratory. These samples are used, for example, to determine the total IgE with a radio-immuno-sorbent test. Allergic reactions are dependent on immunoglobulin E. The immune system recognizes a certain allergen as foreign and therefore wants to drive it out of the body with the antibodies . The total amount of antibodies in the blood therefore plays a role in the assessment of allergological diseases. The increase in the antibody level allows statements to be made about the strength of the hypersensitivity and confirms the presence of an allergy.

However, no specific allergen can be identified using this test, since all allergies raise the antibody level. A second test procedure in allergology is therefore the determination of specific IgE using the radio-allergo-sorbent test. This procedure can confirm the suspicion of a specific allergen. In addition to the two diagnostic methods mentioned, in vitro allergy diagnostics also includes the determination of allergen-specific IgG, cellular allergen stimulation tests and histamine release tests. For example, the IgG test can be used to determine food allergies .

This form of allergy is independent of immunoglobulin E and therefore requires other parameters to be measured. The allergy stimulant test, on the other hand, is intended to qualitatively determine a food allergy. The procedure will also include leukocyte activation testcalled and is based on the assumption that food intolerance would cause inflammatory reactions to certain food components. These reactions are measured in the patient’s blood based on the inflammation-causing leukocytes. The measurement is carried out in connection with the administration of various food extracts. The histamine release test and the basophil activation test are in turn cellular allergy stimulation tests. They are based on the observation that allergies are associated with the release of histamine and the activation of basophils.

The most important in-vivo test methods in allergology include the prick test , the rub test and the intradermal test. In the skin prick test, the allergist drips the test substances onto the patient ‘s skin . He then “pricks” those areas of skin to induce an allergic reaction. The rub test is mainly used in connection with food allergies. The food is rubbed onto the skin and the patient’s reactions are documented.

The intradermal test is relatively unspecific. In this procedure, the doctor injects a solution of the allergens to be tested into the skin on the back and waits for allergic reactions. Once the allergy has been determined, including its extent and allergen, the allergist treats the hypersensitivity. More than 70 different methods are available for this purpose. Which one he chooses depends heavily on the allergen and the intensity of the allergy.

Diagnosis & examination methods

Allergological in vitro test procedures are associated with few risks and side effects for the patient. In vitro tests on patients themselves are associated with risks that should not be underestimated.These risks include, above all, the danger of an allergic shock, because all in-vivo tests want to provoke an allergic reaction in the patient. For this reason, in-vivo testing procedures only take place under supervision. The allergist has antidotes and medicines in his practice that reduce the risks for the patient. Therefore, an allergy test is considered safe in and of itself. However, drug allergies and food allergies are usually tested in hospital.

In the case of food allergies, the allergic reaction often only sets in with a considerable delay. It is then necessary to avoid a collapse of the patient. The inpatient admission for this type of allergy test is therefore a safeguard for the patient. Drug allergies often have unforeseeable side effects or circulatory collapse . Therefore, inpatient admission is safer in this case as well. Test procedures such as the prick test are also discredited for provoking allergies in the first place. Scientists now want to have ruled that out.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.