ALLERGY TESTING

Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Skin Allergy is one of the four forms of hypersensitivity and called Type 1, or immediate, hypersensitivity.

Causes
When a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substance (allergen) that does not bother most other people, an allergic reaction occurs. The body behaves as if it is fighting an infection, resulting in an inflammatory response that can be uncomfortable or even life-threatening.

Substances that often cause reactions are:

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.

Anaphylaxis
It is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. Patient requires immediate medical treatment. Some people have a greater risk of anaphylaxis. Ongoing allergy or a history of anaphylaxis in the family increases your risk.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

•    Red rash, with hives/welts, that is usually itchy
•    Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body
•    Wheezing
•    Passing out
•    Chest tightness
•    Difficulty breathing
•    Hoarse voice
•    Difficulty swallowing
•    Vomiting
•    Diarrhoea
•    Stomach cramping
•    Pale or red colour to the face and body
•    Feeling of impending doom

Skin Allergies
Allergic skin reactions are very common and are caused by a variety of factors, such as food, medications, infections, or simply from heat. The types of reaction are classed as:

  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema
  • Hives or urticaria

Hives
Hives are an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin that appear suddenly. The skin becomes inflamed when the immune system releases histamine that causes small blood vessels to leak, which swells the skin.

Patients with hives often complain about itching, with a burning or stinging sensation. It can appear anywhere on the body and varies in size but isolated areas may join together to form plaques. Hives can last from a few hours to a day before fading.

Hives may cause angioedema, which is swelling of the deep layers of skin. It is characterised by deep swelling around eyes, lips and sometimes of the genitals, hands and feet. And it lasts longer than hives, although swelling usually goes away in less than 24 hours. Rarely, angioedema of the throat, tongue, or lungs can block the airways, causing difficulty breathing. This may become life-threatening.

Acute urticaria – the skin reaction of acute urticaria can last up to 6 weeks.   The most common causes of acute urticaria are foods (additives and preservatives), medication, insect bites, some internal diseases and infections.

Chronic urticaria – utricaria is referred to as chronic when it lasts for more than six weeks. The cause is usually more difficult to identify. Patients with chronic urticaria can experience muscle soreness, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhoea. It can also affect other internal organs, such as the lungs, muscles, and gastrointestinal tract.

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